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Islamabad

January 11, 2016

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Swine flu has claimed three lives so far

Swine flu has claimed three lives so far

Islamabad

Swine flu, influenza H1N1, has so far claimed at least three lives in this region of the country. Many health experts believe that the situation may get worse if proper treatment facilities are not made available for patients in all public sector hospitals of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

A male resident of Taxila, aged 34, was brought to a private hospital in Islamabad last week with flu, fever, headache for three days followed by drowsiness and coma for two days. He was earlier taken to the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi but due to unavailability of a bed for him in the ICU, his attendants took him to the private hospital where he was put on a ventilator. After three days, the patient suffered cardiac arrest and expired. His serology was positive for H1N1 swine flu.

Some three weeks back, two patients of swine flu died in Wah Cantonment. The patients were tested positive for swine flu by the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad.

So far, in this winter, as many as 14 swine flu suspects have been reported from different locations of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi who were taken to various private and public sector hospitals. This year too, the treatment of swine flu, including oseltamivir and zanamivir, are not available easily in most of the markets, said ICU medical specialist Dr. Muhammad Haroon while talking to ‘The News’ on Sunday.

He said that in almost all markets, oseltamivir is only available after being smuggled from India and there is no alternative available. Every flu patient, who remains sick even after three days of onset of symptoms, should report to the nearest teaching hospital for screening of swine flu if required and all his contacts should get vaccination if he is tested positive for the disease, he said.

He, like other health experts in the region, requested the concerned government authorities to make treatment facilities, including flu vaccine and medicine, readily available in all hospitals and pharmacies.

He explained that the symptoms of swine flu resembles with that of influenza virus attack, which starts with high-grade fever, sore throat, sweating, increased heart rate and headache. “The patients of swine flu additionally have marked fatigue, dehydration, drowsiness, vomiting, cough, shortness of breath and low blood pressure.”

Dr. Muhammad Haroon said that a few patients of swine flu also develop rashes and swelling on their bodies. About 25-30% of swine flu victims develop viral pneumonia which rapidly progresses to life-threatening Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), if not treated on time. A large percentage of such patients develop acute heart failure and myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle. Progressive organ dysfunction involves kidneys, liver, brain and blood. Such patients have low red blood cells, white blood cells and decreased platelets. Patients can have bleeding most often from gastrointestinal tract, shock, brain swelling, respiratory failure, heart failure, all eventually leading to death, he said.

He added that once multisystem involvement occurs, prognosis becomes very poor and over 90 per cent of such patients die even in best ICU settings.

To a query, he said the key is preventing swine flu and for that N-95 special masks should be used at high-risk places like hospitals and crowded areas as the routine masks are of no use as swine flu virus can be transmitted from one person to another via sneezing and coughing.

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