Just when swine flu had dropped out of the headlines, there has been a spurt in positive cases in Chitwan.
According to the District Public Health Office (DPHO), 121 individuals, including four children, have tested positive for the H1N1 influenza virus until Friday. Till date, more than 200 patients have been diagnosed with swine flu while three deaths have been linked to the disease.
Except for 20, the rest of those infected with the virus are from Chitwan district, said Ram KC, vector control supervisor at the DPHO. Although only four minors have been diagnosed with the disease, the scare is all too evident with the locals hesitating to send their children to school.
“Sending children to school would be like putting them in harm’s way,” one nervous parent said. Another said he has been sending his kids to school but instructed them to put on mask at all times.
“As children remain in groups in classrooms and playgrounds, chances of them contracting the virus are relatively higher. Due to their low immunity, they are more vulnerable,” KC said, requesting the locals not to take chances and take their wards to a health facility even in case of mild fever.
“If a child has fever, it should be brought to hospital immediately,” said Dr Manoj Yadav at Bharatpur Hospital. Assuring that the disease is curable if diagnosed in time, he has advised the people to see a doctor immediately if additional symptoms manifest.
Swine flu has claimed 22 lives in the country since the disease was first detected in 2009. The A (H1N1) pdm 09 strain of influenza found in Nepal is the same that caused a global pandemic in 2009, which according to WHO killed more than 18,000 people.
Other cases of flu outbreaks in the country are suspected to have spread due to a mutant strain of the disease yet unknown.