Highest number of cases reported in BBMP limits

There has been a sudden and worrisome increase in the number of H1N1 cases in Karnataka in the last one month with nearly 400 persons testing positive for the disease and 14 succumbing to the infection. A total of 603 positive cases were reported from January till date this year. Of these, the highest number of cases are from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike limits, at 141, while Bengaluru Urban has recorded 50 cases.

Worryingly, the total number of positive cases has nearly doubled from 49 reported in the last week of January to 91 in the first week of February. This year, 14 deaths owing in H1N1 have been recorded by the State death audit committee.

Concerned over the sudden spike, the Health Department is all set to issue a directive to all doctors in districts to take up preventive measures and check the spread of the disease on a war-footing.

Bengaluru Urban District Surveillance Officer T.K. Sunanda held a press conference on Thursday to spread awareness about preventive measures. Of the 63 BBMP wards that fall under Bengaluru Urban, areas like Whitefield, Marathalli, Electronics City that has a migratory population is the worst hit, said Dr. Sunanda.

Although the number of positive cases are far less than the 3,260 reported last year, the sudden spurt despite the early onset of summer has surprised many. While doctors do not have any specific reason for this, they say the spike in cases could be due to the fluctuating climatic conditions.

V. Ravi, Professor and Head of the Department of Neurovirology at NIMHANS, said: “Although there is herd immunity in the population, a new susceptible pool builds up every year. This new pool coupled with the remaining population that is not immune to the virus accumulates and gets infected.”

Pointing out that there are no genetic studies being done to find out if there is a mutation of the H1N1 virus, Dr. Ravi said even is there is mutation, it is not to an effect that will change the pattern of the disease infection.

S. Sajjan Shetty, Joint Director (Communicable Diseases), said the numbers are high because more people are getting screened now. “The State death audit committee that met on Thursday has confirmed 14 deaths. We are sending out a circular alerting all doctors to take up preventive measures on Friday. There is no need for panic as the disease is no longer new and can be treated if detected early,” he said.

According to statistics from the State Health and Family Welfare Department, the highest number of positive cases – 141 – have been reported from BBMP limits so far this year. Last year, 423 positive cases and two deaths had been reported from BBMP limits for the whole year. The number of positive cases have also increased in Udupi, Mysuru, Dakshina Kannada, Bengaluru Urban and Shivamogga. “As H1N1 is airborne, the virus thrives in thickly populated regions where floating population is high,” Dr. Sajjan Shetty said.

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