16 samples test positive for Hong Kong flu

Kathmandu, January 23

National Public Health Laboratory, Teku, has confirmed that 16 patients from Solukhumbu district have tested positive for Hong Kong flu. All the 16 throat swab samples sent to the laboratory tested positive for influenza type A, H3N2 strain, according to NPHL Director Dr Raj Kumar Mahato.

Six samples collected from Kalikot are being tested in laboratory and reports are likely tomorrow, said Dr Bhim Acharya, director, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Teku. Throat swabs were collected after 96 people showed influenza like symptoms in Manma, Khaadaachakra.

Hong Kong flu was also diagnosed in Bajura and Jajarkot earlier. Of the seven throat swab samples from Jajarkot three had tested positive; of the 12 samples from Bajura, five had tested positive for Hong Kong flu.

Earlier, 17 people were reported to have died in Jajarkot due to influenza. “The EDCD has completed verbal autopsy of the deceased. From their medical reports and symptoms described, at least four died due to Hong Kong flu,” added Dr Acharya.

“This is a seasonal flu and cases are usually high during the change in seasons. Seasonal changes and cold weather conditions help spread the virus,” said Dr Acharya.

Anyone can catch flu but the ones with low immunity power are more likely to be infected. “Due to low immunity power, children and elderly people are more vulnerable,” said Dr Acharya.

People with chronic illnesses, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (difficulty in breathing), diabetes, renal failure, cancer, those receiving chemotherapy, and those living with HIV and tuberculosis are prone to the flu because of weak immune system,” added Dr Acharya.