Another flu suspect tests positive

Hyderabad, June 08: With another suspect from the city testing positive for swine flu, taking the number to seven, National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Delhi, has put in place stringent screening measures. Henceforth, a registry will be maintained at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Shamshabad, of all incoming international passengers.

With majority of the swine flu cases (seven out of nine) detected in Andhra Pradesh, an NICD team from Delhi was airdashed to the city.

On Sunday, the 24-year-old software professional from Toronto tested positive for swine flu. He was on board the British Airways flight 277, which carried the confirmed case, a 28-year-old techie from the city. The flight landed in the city on May 31.

Since this is the third case of infection from BA 277, NICD has asked local health officials to administer anti-viral drug oscaltamivir to all 264 passengers and crew on board the flight. Blood samples of all the passengers would be screened for H1N1.

Earlier in the day, a case of ordinary flu sent health officials in a tizzy. A 23-year-old MS student from New Mexico, who had come to the city on June 1, had contracted H3N1 influenza (viral flu), but the news triggered panic in the city, which has already reported seven confirmed cases of H1N1.

The hotline set up at Government General and Chest Hospital was flooded with calls from panicked co-passengers of the MS student after the information was flashed on news channels.

“It is a case of ordinary flu (influenza) and not swine flu. The common flu could occur sporadically and has no connection with H1N1 influenza,” H1N1 Influenza Nodal Centre coordinator Dr K Subhakar said.
“There is no need for panic as the health department has checked all people who were in touch with the positive cases of swine flu,” he added.

By evening, two more suspected cases were reported at the Chest Hospital.

Reassuring the air passengers, principal secretary, health, L V Subramanyam said that of over 75,000 air passengers screened at the airport only seven cases tested positive. “All precautions are being taken by the health officials to provide best possible care for patients,” he added.

The samples of all the four family members of the 31-year-old woman and her four-and-a-half-year-old daughter were collected on Sunday and sent to NICD for confirmatory tests.

Meawhile, samples of two other suspected cases – a 30-year-old woman who flew in from New York to visit her family in the city and a 34-year-old software professional from Brazil – have turned out to be negative.
“The NICD team visited the family members of confirmed cases. They also checked the efficiency of the house quarantine mechanism. They will prepare a report and give a follow-up plan,” Subramanyam said. He said since there was an overload of samples at NICD, samples of new suspects might be sent to National Institute of Virology, Pune, for confirmatory tests.

The NICD team also visited all quarantine facilities in the city, including the Chest Hospital, Government Area Hospitals in Kondapur and Vanasthalipuram.