Nepal | March 30, 2020

H1N1 influenza death toll reaches 14

Sabitri Dhakal

Kathmandu, September 16

The death toll from pandemic influenza A(H1N1)pdm 09 has reached 14 so far this year, according to Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Teku.

Five patients from Pokhara, two each from Jhapa and Palpa, one each from Syangja, Rupandehi, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Kavre, have died of the disease. As many as 861 patients have tested positive for pandemic influenza so far this year, said Dr Guna Nidhi Sharma, section chief for epidemiology at EDCD.

Although on the decline, influenza cases are still being reported. “This is because of temperature. There hasn’t been a steady decline in temperature, making the environment favourable for the transmission of the influenza virus. Due to temperature fluctuation, there are chances for the influenza cases to rise again,” warned Dr Sharma.

EDCD has sent an isolated sample virus to the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, a research institute in Bangkok, to test the genetic shift of the virus as the influenza virus changes its strain regularly.

“If there is a genetic shift in the virus then there are chances of more deaths. Therefore it needs to be identified. We have also requested them to test antibiotic resistance of medicines. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria/virus change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of drugs used to cure infection. If there is such resistance then the medicine turns ineffective. Therefore these tests are necessary,” added Dr Sharma. The report of the samples is yet to come.

The doctor advised those with symptoms of influenza such as high grade fever, cough and sneezing to immediately go for a health check-up. Children below the age of two years, elderly above 65 years and persons with diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, lung cancer, any chronic diseases in lungs, heart patients, people living with kidney diseases, diabetes, hepatitis and HIV infected people, among others, are under the risk of the  infection, as per Dr Sharma.

A version of this article appears in print on September 17, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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