CHENNAI: There have been nine confirmed H1N1 deaths in the state since January , and 20-30 suspected cases of the flu are admitted to hospitals every day, said public health officials. In Chennai, where 105 cases tested positive for the virus since January, the corporation has launched a massive awareness drive; help desks have been set up at Central Railway Station and the bus terminal.
Over the past week, senior health officials have fanned out to Coimbatore, Chennai, Trichy, Villupuram and Vellore - the districts from where the most cases have been reported.
Officials say the prevalence of co-morbid condi tions like diabetes and hypertension, even in rural households, is hampering efforts to reduce mortality ."Many of those who died had other conditions like diabetes along with the flu and they sought medical help too late," said director of public health Dr K Kolandaisamy after inspecting localities in Villupuram on Wednesday.
"We are also organising street plays in slum areas to spread awareness on the importance of hand washing," said city health officer N A Senthil Nathan.
In some places, including Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichy and Vellore, patients were being admitted or sent to government hospitals at a very late stage. "Not all people require admission. But they should be monitored and brought to the hospital when they have breathlessness or worsening of the existing heart or kidney disease," said Kolandaisamy.
Not everyone needs admission, but the health department advisory has asked people to visit doctors as soon as they develop a fever."Earlier we used to tell people to wait for a couple of days. Now we tell them to head straight to a clinic," he said. Doctors have been asked to test for malaria, typhoid, dengue, leptospirosis and H1N1. People who come with a mild fever, cough, sore throat, body ache, headache, nausea and diarrhoea will be put in Category A and will be monitored for 24-48 hours.They don't need tests or medication. But if they have high-grade fever or are in the high-risk category (children, elderly , pregnant women, diabetic, hypertensive or have any chronic ailment such as lung, liver, kidney or heart disease) they will be advised oseltamivir (Tamiflu) with domiciliary quarantine.