Dr Om Shrivastav, Head of Infectious Diseases, Jaslok Hospital answers some very important questions about Swine Flu.
Your word of advice for people:
The biggest advice for the community will be to seek help at the earliest. when u start to have symptoms, get treatment, rather than delaying it. As we've seen in the past epidemic, patients who have delay are the ones who have suffered the max complications.
It behaves like the common influenza virus, so it will be runny nose, headache, body ache, sore throat, cough, go on to having systemic organs involvement, including the gut, brain and spine, maybe a patch of pneumonia. And in certain patients who are at a higher risk, these complications occur earlier. Especially, people who are elderly, on steroids, on immuno suppression therapy, pregnant ladies, children. These are some categories of patients, who have a slightly higher risk than the general population, so in these patients, the symptoms might be a little more brisk, and a little more complicated than the general population.
Why is Pune once again the hot seat of Swine Flu?
Not sure why that is the case, that epidemiological experts will have to study. But yes, there is definitely a pattern, people who are affected tend to come from a certain cluster of around a certain geographical area. I'm not sure, if the answers to why that happens are clear, but yes, there is a pattern.
Who should get vaccinated?
If youre in a situation where your risk profile is higher than the general population, then you should be advised to take the vaccine. Pregnant women, elderly, people who are prone to infections, these people should be recommended to take the vaccine, because it will confer people some amount of protection. However, this is an influenza and you will have some amount of risk. Is the vaccine indicated in special groups.
Mass vaccinations , there isn't a role for mass vaccinations in this kind of a situation, But there is a need for mass vaccination in a situation like this, but there is a role for people in higher risk to be given the vaccine
Can Swine Flu take pandemic proportions like 2009?
I would say NO. I think, ultimately, swine flu would become a community acquired influenza, and let me point out, as compared to the first wave of the epidemic, we are far better prepared. There is a lot more awareness among the general population, amongst doctors, amongst chemists and pharmacists...so people tend to take help sooner, rather than later.. I seriously doubt that it will become a pandemic.
Precautions which people need to follow:
If you think you are infected, generally, take your medicines, avoid contact with people who are more likely to pick up the infection from you. That includes, children, diabetics, pregnant women, those kind of people should avoid your company. Anywhere after 4-5 days you will stop shedding the virus in the community, but like I said, if you feel, your symptoms are going worse, please go and see a doctor immediately.
Does everyone need hospitalisation:
IF there is a facility for you sitting at home, you should be fine, everyone doesnt need quarantine. Unless your condition is getting bad.