- Given the incidence of swine flu across the border, precautions must be taken
Feb 25, 2015-
Swine flu, as we know now, is not as fatal as it was thought to be when it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2009. Still, according to WHO estimates, the flu pandemic of 2009-10 killed 18,449 people around the world. A 2013 analysis carried out by scientists, however, found that a pandemic caused by the H1N1 virus might have in fact killed up to 203,000 people worldwide—10 times higher than initial estimates. So the flu is still is a reason for concern, more so for Nepal as cases of infection across the border, in India, are on the rise.
According to the Indian Health Ministry, starting this January, swine flu has killed 833 people across India. The number of people affected by the H1N1 virus has crossed the 14,000 mark. In Ahmedabad, a city in the Indian state of Gujarat, the government has invoked a law that prohibits mass gatherings without prior permission in order to prevent the spread of the flu. Down in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, officials have asked high risk groups—pregnant women, people with existing ailments, the elderly, and children below two years of age—to avoid crowded places like markets, shopping complexes, and temples. In Nepal, eight people have tested positive for H1N1; all had recently travelled to India. So, the health desks set up at Nepal-India border points in Kailali and Kanchanpur by the government is a good step.
Swine flu is an infection caused by a strain
of influenza virus that usually affects the pig. The transmission of the H1N1 virus from pigs to humans, however, is rarer than human-to-human transmissions. It is very contagious as it spread through mucus and saliva while coughing, sneezing, and touching an infected surface like public bus handles or door knobs and then touching their eyes and noses. Its symptoms are similar to that of a regular flu: chills, coughing, muscle pain, sore throat, and high fever. While it is treatable by an oral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu), it could be fatal to high risk groups and those whose immunity has been compromised, as in the case of people suffering from HIV/AIDS.
The best way to deal with the looming threat of swine flu is to prevent it. Easy methods to adopt would be to frequently wash one’s hands with soap and use hand sanitisers. People should also avoiding touching surfaces of mobile phones or telephones, where the virus thrives, with one’s nose, mouth or eyes, and wear masks while travelling in crowded places. Health workers dealing with swine flu patients or with those suspected of the disease should also take precautions by protecting their eyes and wearing masks and gloves. Meanwhile, the government must continue health checkups of people crossing the border and furthermore, conduct awareness campaigns on the flu, its symptoms and the preventive measures to take.
Published: 26-02-2015 06:17