DAK cautions against H1N1 outbreak

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SRINAGAR: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) today cautioned the public against possible H1N1 outbreak in valley in view of recent uptick in the number of H1N1 cases.

President DAK and H1N1 expert, Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan, said that the recent spike in H1N1 cases and deaths in states of Maharashtra and Rajasthan has sounded alarm bells in Kashmir.

“During previous flu season, health authorities in Kashmir ignored H1N1 outbreak alert which resulted in spread of disease and loss of precious lives, he said. “The unpredictability and changing behaviour of the virus makes it difficult to assess the timing, severity and length of the outbreak.”

In a study published in Cell Host and Microbe, 2014 Indian H1N1 virus has undergone mutation that possibly made the virus more virulent and contagious and might also allow it to elude the existing flu shots that cover 2009 pandemic strain, Dr Nisar said.

“These mutations might explain why the current outbreak which should have faded with the onset of warmer weather continues,” he said. “In February 2015 H1N1 outbreak, Kashmir witnessed aggressive behaviour of the virus which was responsible for high hospitalizations and deaths.”

According to Dr. Nisar, SKIMS research lab failed in surveillance and no effort was made to observe any change in the virus and find out whether possible drifted strain is matching current vaccine. “Kashmir is sitting on yet another H1N1 outbreak and there is no better time for health authorities than now to act,” Dr Nisar cautioned. “Vaccination is the single best way to protect people from flu and even if the virus has changed, vaccine can still protect people because of cross protection.”

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