Lack of preventive measures behind swine flu spread

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NARAYANGADH, APR 21 – The number of people suffering from H1N1 (swine flu) virus has reached 166 in Bharatpur, the district headquarters of Chitwan, and surrounding areas, with medical reports of 53 people suspected of carrying the virus yet to arrive.

Since January this year, the District Public Health Office (DPHO), Chitwan has sent blood samples of 503 people suspected of suffering from swine flu to the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) in the Capital for examination.

According to district health officials, low levels of awareness and failure to adopt preventive measures against swine flu were found to be the primary factors behind the rapid spread of the communicable virus.

Furthermore, adding to the list of causes, the development of Chitwan as a medical hub of the region over the years also happens to be one of the contributing factors behind the rise in cases of swine flu in the district.

As Chitwan has emerged as a “medical city” in recent times, most patients suffering from various ailments from other districts are transferred here for treatment, which definitely contributes in the spread of swine flu, health workers said.

Stating that patients from as far as Udaypur in the east and Rupandehi in the west regularly come to Chitwan for medical treatment and check-up, vector control supervisor Ram KC of the DPHO said that of the total 166 tested positive for H1N1, 138 are residents of Chitwan itself.  KC said that the condition of all the patients suffering from swine flu is stable and that the disease would eventually come under control with the rise in mercury levels as it was a seasonal flu.

Once contracted, the swine flu virus can manifest itself within a week or 10 days. Stating that they had also witnessed cases where the children had contracted the virus from their mothers, KC said that it was crucial to raise awareness about the virus in order to prevent its spread.

“The cooperation of all the concerned stakeholders is necessary for the purpose,” KC said, adding that health personnel working with the affected should also be careful about their safety. Meanwhile, acting chief of DPHO Narhari Sharma said that high fever, cough, sore throat were the main symptoms of H1N1 virus, while sneezing, stuffy or running nose, headaches, muscle cramps and lethargy were symptoms common to all kinds of influenza.

Ex-Nafea Chair Bataju dies of swine flu

Former Chairman of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) Som Lal Bataju who was undergoing treatment for H1N1 (swine flu) virus passed away in the Capital on Sunday.

Bataju, one of the six proprietors of SOS Manpower in Dhapasi, breathed his last at around 2 am yesterday night. He had been admitted to Dhapasi-based Grande Hospital after contracting the disease two weeks ago and was undergoing treatment.

Bataju’s recruiting agency is one of the topmost suppliers of Nepali migrant workers to the Gulf and Malaysia. The government had even felicitated him for his contribution in foreign employment sector when he was NAFEA chairman.

Health minister warns doctors

Health Minister Khagaraj Adhikari has warned action against the doctors failing to reach their designated work places within the given deadline.

At an interaction organised by Reporters’ Club in the Capital on Monday, Adhikari informed that a 24-hour ultimatum has been issued for doctors to reach the places of their deployment. He threatened action against those failing to abide by the order, and to initiate a new recruitment process to replace them.

Adhikari said around 200 health workers have been providing round-the-clock service in the affected region. He added that most of the patients were sick due to seasonal flu and only 33 percent of the victims had died of swine flu.