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News  


 

Novel H1N1 rages in S.India

By Carol Aloysius
The outbreak of Novel HINI (commonly known as swine flu) which is currently raging in southern India, is still to make its reappearance in Sri Lanka, although Health Ministry sources fear that it won’t be long before the first case is reported in this nation.

“So far we haven’t a single confirmed case of Novel HINI. But we are making all the necessary preparations for any future outbreak”, Dr Sugath Peiris, Senior Epidemiologist told The Nation.
He said that 400,000 vaccines given by the WHO earlier had been distributed to all the leading hospitals islandwide.

“As a precautionary step, we have asked for another one million vaccines from the WHO, to face any HINI virus outbreak’’ , he said.
Novel HINI peaked in 2009 with over 640 cases being reported and nearly 50 deaths recorded up to February this year.

Asked if any special arrangements were being made to send any infected patients to the Infectious Diseases Hospital or set up separate wards for them, Dr Peiris replied in the negative. “Earlier, when the disease broke out here, as well as around the globe, people panicked. But now we have realised that it is not as dangerous a disease as we thought it was. It is like a normal flu, with symptoms very similar to flu, such as fever, cough and colds. Only a lab test will confirm if the patient is actually having the disease’’ , Dr Peiris said.
Meanwhile, as Health authorities continue to wrangle over the BTI issue, with none of them being able to tell The Nation whether the stocks of imported BTI were actually in the country or not, the threat of another outbreak of Dengue is imminent, with the onset of the monsoons this month.

“Mosquito breeding sites may have come down in the high risk areas like Colombo, thus reducing the threat of Dengue. But we can’t afford to be complacent and discontinue our cleaning up operations. Householders must constantly maintain the cleanliness of their immediate environment, and all the authorities, from city planners, municipal councils, schools, institutions to hospitals, must continue to monitor and inspect their immediate environment for any breeding site that may have been overlooked. Even one single breeding site or one small water collecting container can lead to an outbreak of the disease,” warned Dr Peiris.
A total of 27,142 cases of Dengue have been reported up to August 20, with 195 deaths. The disease which peaked at 4072 cases in January, saw a decline in March, April and May, and a sudden surge in June (3,343 cases) and July (5,889 cases).