Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The 11 swine flu deaths in India is very unfortunate. There have also been a number of positive cases reported, majority of which are in Pune. There is only one testing center in Pune which is the National Institute of Virology(NIV) and some designated government and private hospitals that can collect swab samples that needs to be sent for testing. If tested positive, the patient is quarantined for at least a week and medication provided if symptoms become severe. Currently there is no specific medicine or vaccine for swine flu. There are a host of preventive measures one can take which include regularly washing hands, staying away from crowded areas, using masks etc.

There is pandemonium all around Pune. I see people wearing masks everywhere. Schools, colleges and other public institutions/businesses are shut. There is a wave of fear all over the place. The Indian media has gone all guns blazing screaming about daily counts of fresh cases, deaths, crowds flooding hospitals etc. When you read the paper or switch on the news channels, all you hear is this. The media is also spreading good awareness but fear is an easier way to get viewers hooked on. More the sensation, better the viewership.

With due respect and condolences to the families that have suffered because of Swine flu, there are deaths because of regular flu every year. Patients who develop other complications or whose immunity is weakened because of flu succumb. Majority of the affected recover by just taking rest for a week and getting treated for the symptoms that accompany flu. Pregnant women, children and people around them need to take extra precaution. But they should always be careful and not throw caution to the wind once they stop hearing about swine flu.

Be careful and do not panic. The words health practitioners and government use. I would add. Please behave responsibly. This is to both the callous who smirks around and to the individual/organization that creates unwarranted fear.

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