Flu cases in Kashmir surge as cold wave intensifies
Two influenza patients died at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura, here on Friday, even as the number of patients testing positive for the viral respiratory infection which continues to spread with the cold wave sweeping Kashmir.
In the past 24 hours, two patients who had tested positive for influenza died at the SKIMS, hospital authorities said, adding that both the patients were on ventilator.
One of the patients was an elderly male who also had a co-morbidity, medical superintendent SKIMS, Dr Farooq A Jan said. The other patient who lost life was an 18 year old male who did not have any other co-existing illness. “He was brought to the hospital in a very sick condition,” Dr Jan said.
With these two deaths, the toll of influenza this season has reached four, hospital administration said.
According to the data maintained by SKIMS, 62 patients have tested positive at the Institute. Of these, 29 patients, who had serious symptoms, were admitted for treatment.
However, a source at the hospital said the actual number of patients who have tested positive since September 2018 is over 100. “The hospital data includes positives from only one laboratory. Data from other labs that also do testing for influenza is not included in the records,” he said.
At the various labs of Government Medical College Srinagar, 37 patients have tested positive since September this year, administration of the hospitals said.
Doctors across hospitals of Kashmir report an increasing trend in influenza cases with the temperatures dipping steeply.
Prof Parvaiz Ahmed Koul, influenza expert and head of department of internal and pulmonary medicine at SKIMS confirmed that the numbers were rising.
“There is absolutely an increase in cases as the weather turns cold,” he said. He however added that the activity was “not explosive” and was lesser as compared to the last year.
He said that lab tests had confirmed that the circulating strain of influenza this year was H3N2 and not H1N1. “H1N1 is also there, but H3N2 is being seen much more,” he said.
Dr Naveed Nazir Shah, head of department of Pulmonology at Government Medical College Srinagar said that although the number of patients with confirmed influenza infection had increased but no mortality had been seen. “We are seeing and testing patients at the GMC Srinagar as well as the Chest Diseases Hospital, but we have not recorded any mortality this year,” he said.
Prof Koul said the data from the influenza surveillance laboratory had shown that the vaccine was an exact match to the influenza strains circulating currently.
He said that influenza activity in Kashmir was similar to USA. “Flu-wise, we follow the same pattern as USA and as in the States, we have a high activity currently,” he said.