Sunday, December 20, 2009

India: H1N1 virus may combine with seasonal flu

20 December 2009

PUNE: A simultaneous influenza activity of both the novel strain of the H1N1 and the seasonal influenza virus is being seen circulating in the country, which is a cause of serious concern, said A C Mishra, director of the National Institute of Virology (NIV) here on Saturday.

Scientists at the NIV are keeping a close watch because the H1N1 virus may come together with the seasonal influenza and lead to easier spread of the virus in the community, he said.

Mishra was speaking as a guest of honour at the inaugural session of the 18th annual conference organised by the Pune Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society (POGS) at the IMA house in the city on Saturday.

"In western countries, all influenza cases are turning out to be that of H1N1 flu, while in India, we see cases of seasonal as well as swine flu infection. Hence, we cannot predict with accuracy whether the virus will behave the way it is behaving now. There is too much uncertainty. There are definitely reasons to worry; there are reasons to be more alert and cautious as well," Mishra said.

Similarly, the NIV will also keep a close eye on the outbreak of any influenza in the country to keep constantly ruling out the local transmission of the virus. "A sudden rise in any influenza will be immediately taken into account. We will even be conducting tests on a few samples to find out whether the virus has mixed up with common influenza virus," said Mishra.

Elaborating further, Mishra said, "The scientific understanding of the H1N1 virus is changing every day. What we think of today change the next day."

Taking stock of the slight rise in infection cases in the last two weeks, Mishra said, "A slight upward movement is being seen in the swine flu infection in the last few days. Similarly, a slight rise in the deaths caused by the infection is also seen in the last few days. We are still at the high risk zone in Pune. There is a definite need to be wary and take precautions."

He added: "At this stage, it is important to maintain surveillance and update pandemic preparedness and response plans accordingly."

On this occasion, the POGS's awareness posters on swine flu and pregnancy was also released. Vikas Amte of Anandvan graced the occasion.

hat-tip Monotreme

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