Are we prepared for another outbreak of H1N1?

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SRINAGAR: As autumn sets in Kashmir and augurs the onset of winter, fears about the revival of H1N1 virus outbreak are being articulated by people. The last year’s outbreak of H1N1 virus in Jammu and Kashmir  cost nearly 20 lives and left more than hundreds infected ( The virus becomes more virulent during the winter season). The fears are also fed by the outbreak of dengue virus in Delhi which has exacted 1872 cases so far and claimed five lives. Peoples’ anxieties are heightened by the total lack of preparedness on part of the authorities.

 So far government and health authorities have not come up with a Preventive strategy or any vaccination plan for the people of the state.

 “Last year, my brother who was in Delhi also tested Positive of H1N1, but due to timely detection of the virus, his life was saved,” said Rouf Ahmed of Eidgah.

“I feel scared now of catching cold as I have seen my brothers condition last year which was quite disturbing for me and my family. The government must come up with a plan of immunization, so that human lives can be saved,” he added more.

Influenza Virus (H1N1) or Swine flu is the subtype of influenza A virus which was the most common cause of human influenza pandemic in the year 2009. It is an orthomyxovirus that contains the glycoprotiens (haemagglutin and neuraminidase). Haemagglutin causes red blood cells to clump together and binds the virus to the infected cell. Neuraminidase is a type of glycoside hydrolase enzyme which helps to move the virus particles through the infected cell and assist in budding from the host cells.

“A common cold is dangerous now as people in Kashmir don’t know about the swine flu as such. A commoner like me is unaware about it, so there is a need of generating awareness and vaccination should be done at first up to combat this disease,” said Fayaz Ahmad of Lal Bazaar.

“There is definite need of flu vaccine, so that vaccination can be done on proper time and more importantly we have to keep ourselves prepared for such outbreak and it can be done through proper sanitization and with application of preventive measures,” said a local medico at SKIMS hospital.

“The hospitals in the State need to be equipped with proper medication like masks, Vaccines (tamiflu) and life saving equipments to fight any such endemic. The people need to take precautionary measures at home and working places”, he further added.

In June 2009, World Health Organization (WHO) declared H1N1 as pandemic all around the world. This virus killed 17000 people and infected more than two lac people by the start of August, 2010.

Around this year certain parts of Maharashtra and other states of India are infected by this deadly virus, so there is every possibility of an outbreak in Kashmir also. We should be prepared for this and people must be vaccinated forthwith said Irfana a medical student from Soura.

DAK president Dr. Nisar-ul- Hassan said “, this is the perfect time for vaccination and hospitals all over the state must have good stocks of medicines and vaccines to fight against any such outbreak. The government and concerned authorities have to necessary steps now, rather than taking it off late.

“There is also a need for awareness generation and children under the age of 1-9 years and older people must be taken greater care,”he further added.

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