Sunday, June 23, 2024

Swine flu returns

31 student nurses come down with deadly influenza in Kurigram
Symptoms: Acute cough, fever and occasional vomiting.
Cautions: Refraining people from coughing, sneezing in public places and keeping apart the infected persons from other persons.
Chronology: First broke out in 2009 claiming lives of eight people, resurfaced in January, 2012.
Swine flu that killed at least eight people in Bangladesh since its first detection in 2009 has hit the country once again.
At least 31 students of Kurigram Nursing Training Institute were diagnosed with swine flu or Influenza A (H1N1) virus on Tuesday, said the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) yesterday.
The patients were gradually recovering after being treated with Oseltamivir, an anti-influenza drug, widely used worldwide for treating the highly infectious disease, said the IEDCR.
IEDCR Director Prof Mahmudur Rahman said the first case of swine flu was detected in Bangladesh on June 18, 2009. It resurfaced again in different parts in January after a one-year lull.
This time the deadly disease has hit in January, though usually it breaks out between April and September.
IEDCR Researcher Dr ASM Alamgir said 105 cases of swine flu were detected in different parts of the country from January to March.
Two cases were detected in January in Dhaka and Kishoreganj, 10 more cases in February in Dhaka, Bogra and Barisal, and another 93 cases in March in Kishoreganj, Dhaka, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Bogra, Dinajpur, Chittagong, Comilla, Jessore, Sylhet and Barisal.
The IEDCR said it noticed a rising trend in the number of swine flu patients across the county.
If anyone has symptoms similar to that of the flu, the person should immediately consult a physician and be diagnosed properly, said the IEDCR director.
He said the flu is not new to the people and their immune systems have built resistance to the disease to a certain level over the last three to four years.
Mahmudur, however, said the flu may take a heavy toll on patients of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart diseases.
Influenza vaccine could help prevent swine flu but Bangladesh is yet to launch any flu vaccination programme, he said.
The vaccine works in the immune system for a year. The vaccine needs to be modified every year making it difficult for a country like Bangladesh to introduce flu vaccination programme, said Mahmudur.
“We can also check it by creating awareness among people. Patients of this highly infectious disease must refrain from coughing or sneezing in public places. And they should be kept separate from other family members.”
In June 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO), declared the new strain of swine-origin H1N1 as a pandemic. In Bangladesh, at least eight people died of swine flu and another 1,411 got infected by it the same year.
Dr Aminul Islam, health officer at Kurigram Sadar Upazila Hospital, said 50 students of Kurigram Nursing Training Institute were admitted to the hospital with flu symptoms.
“They have been receiving treatment in isolation from April 10. They had symptoms such as cough, fever, vomiting and upset stomach.”
He said their condition is now stable and the symptoms are gone. However, they will be kept in the isolation ward for two more days to complete the cure.
The IEDCR said the flu’s outbreak in the nursing institute’s dormitory indicates that the students were kept in cramped rooms where they might have to share beds. Steps should be taken to ensure proper accommodation for students in such facilities, it added.

-With The Daily Star input

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