Within a day, the swine flu death toll in Mexico climbed to 152, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise its global pandemic flu alert level to phase four. Confirmed cases in other parts of the world: 50 in the US, six in Canada, two in the UK and one in Spain have been linked to travel to Mexico.
Brazil, Australia, Israel and New Zealand have suspected swine flu cases, but three of the four people tested for the virus tested negative in France. While the WHO has not advised restriction of international travel, it has asked people with symptoms following international travel to get tested and treated. Swine flu symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, cough, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea. There is no risk of infection from eating well-cooked pork and pork products, says the WHO. How prepared is India to tackle swine flu? Not as much as the Health Ministry would have us believe. A reality check of the government’s contingency plan to stop swine flu from entering India showed that nothing is in place at Delhi and Mumbai airports that get the most flights from the affected countries.
On Monday afternoon, the health ministry informed the media that it has issued an advisory asking travellers to India from affected countries to report flu symptoms to the airport health authority or call 1075 or 011-23921401. The anti-flu drug oseltamivir (brandname Tamiflu) is very effective against the H1N1 virus that causes swine flu and India has stockpiled 1 million doses, with plans to add another 1 million for an emergency. Oseltamivir is manufactured in India by several companies, including Cipla and Hetero Drugs, are in talks with Mexico, Israel and Latin American countries for oseltamivir and can manufacture 1.5 million doses within four to six weeks. We, however, don’t supply to the Indian government, which I beleive has already stockpiled it, Cipla’s chief executive Amar Lulla told HT.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in humans the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. The 2009 outbreak has shown an increased percentage of patients reporting diarrhea and vomiting.
Because these symptoms are not specific to swine flu, a differential diagnosis of probable swine flu requires not only symptoms but also a high likelihood of swine flu due to the person’s recent history. For example, during the 2009 swine flu outbreak in the United States, CDC advised physicians to “consider swine influenza infection in the differential diagnosis of patients with acute febrile respiratory illness who have either been in contact with persons with confirmed swine flu, or who were in one of the five U.S. states that have reported swine flu cases or in Mexico during the 7 days preceding their illness onset.” A diagnosis of confirmed swine flu requires laboratory testing of a respiratory sample (a simple nose and throat swab).