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May 22
Now, swine flu alert for city
With the Met Department forecasting a fall in temperature and likelihood of more rain in the coming days, doctors have warned of possible Swine Flu (H1N1) outbreak in the twin cities as the virus spreads faster during monsoon and winter seasons.

"The virus has been mild so far, but it is a well-known fact that it could change its behavior. And if that happens, then the virus could become dangerous. Swine flu can spread rapidly during monsoon and winter months. Therefore, we could see more infections in the coming days due to cool weather conditions," SV Prasad, superintendent of Andhra Pradesh Government Chest Hospital, told expresso.

"Surveillance and screening has to be given high priority and special medical staff and testing centres are being made available at various parts of the twin cities," he said. He, however, pointed out that there was no need for panic. People need to be more vigilant and take precautionary measures. "It is likely that the virus could spread in a community or in clusters like schools or localities," he opined.

If people living in a community or a cluster exhibit similar illness symptoms, they should be screened for the virus so that in case of any positive signs they could be administered the anti-virus, Tamiflu medicine, in time.

"Every season 10 percent of the population is affected with common flu, and if the number in the coming season rises to 25-30 percent then it is a cause of concern. We should have a database of the swine flu patients in the State and also the twin cities to check against any unusual outbreak," Prasad added.

Dr BSV Manjula, superintendent of Fever Hospital, said sufficient staff and stocks of medicines are available to cope up with diseases which commonly erupt during advance rains. "We maintain proper stock of medicines for diarrhoea, normal fever and other communicable diseases," she added.

Over 787 cases were detected in the State and nearly 55 persons died of swine flu H1N1 influenza since its outbreak last year. At least 80,000 doses of vaccination have been released and the entire medical staff of the Chest hospital were vaccinated recently. All government hospitals, including those in the districts, have been given sufficient doses of the vaccine for immunisation of health workers.

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