The death of a 51-year-old woman in Delhi due to swine flu has once again brought the focus back on ways to avoid catching the infection. Dr Neeraj Jain, Senior Consultant, Ganga Ram Hospital, who talks about the symptoms and prevention.
What are the basic precautions that people can take?
Dr Jain: I think people whose immunity is lower or who have severe lung disease because of any other cause, should protect themselves from the cold. So they should not be stepping out early morning and late evening. Try and avoid contact with people who have cough or fever. And then, even if they develop symptoms, they should seek help early. So, these are people whose immunity is compromised. People who are normal and healthy should take normal hygiene and barrier protection. If you develop flu for example, make sure you are not coughing on anyone’s face, make sure you are using a tissue, make sure you are disposing it off properly. And ensure that you are remaining at a certain distance away from the normal people most of the time.
How do you get to know you that the flu you have is going to be swine flu?
Dr Jain: We need to be very clear. Every flu is not swine flu… it could be. And most swine flu could be mild if people take rest, take care and are healthy. So they would recover on their own without any treatment. So there is no need to panic as yet. I do think that we do need to keep a close watch. So all hospitals should be reporting cases that come positive early. The trends need to be watched. So if the trend shows it is picking up at alarming rate, we need to take measures like we had to do earlier.
What are the symptoms?
Dr Jain: Any person who has a flu like illness. Who starts developing severe breathlessness. Whose BP starts falling, those people need to seek help early. They do need to go to a designated centre which is equipped to deal with them. Even if they need hospital admission they facilities should be available. If that happens people will stop running from hosppital to hospital.
How efficient is Tamiflu pill?
Dr Jain: Tamiflu is the only drug that we have available. And if in severe diseases it is started early, they yes the results are positive. I just want to say that there is no need to panic as yet, people just need to be aware.