With expected increase in swine flu activity in coming days, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) today warned public health officials not to be complacent as influenza could become more widespread as season wears on.
Although so far, this flu season has been mild, President DAK and Flu expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan said that does not mean we are out of woods yet.
“This year’s slow start to the flu season isn’t out of ordinary as other seasons have had the same pattern. During previous flu season when we thought worst was over there was sudden spike in cases in February,” Dr Hassan in a statement issued here said.
“National Institute of Virology also observed steep rise of 22% in swine flu cases during February in 2015 which continued for sometime thereafter,” he said.
According to a flu forecast project there is a 57% chance that this flu season will likely peak in February. CDC in its weekly report has said that flu activity is increasing and H1N1 is the dominant circulating strain.
“We are expecting a lot more flu coming down the road and we must not lower our guard. While flu spreads every year timing, severity and length of flu is unpredictable and can vary from season to season,” he said.
“The 2009 swine flu pandemic started in April and the new virus caused high levels of summer infections. Despite alert from center, health authorities in Kashmir seem to show no urgency to prepare against possible swine flu threat,” he said.
He said “we have no idea about flu activity and we do not know which strain is predominant and whether there is any change in virus.”
While swine flu scare is looming over the valley, there are serious gaps such as low vaccination rates and no efforts are made to educate people about the need for vaccine which is the best defense against flu.