Friday, July 2, 2010

Stress on early detection among high-risk groups

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The high rate of mortality among pregnant or post-natal women due to H1N1 infection has prompted the Health Department to take pro-active measures by strengthening early detection of the infection in the community.

Though it had been established when the H1N1 pandemic broke out that pregnant women were highly vulnerable to the infection, it was only in the second spell of virus activity in the State that more number of deaths among this category of patients was reported.

The WHO had recommended that in areas where H1N1 infection was widespread, pregnant women as well as clinicians should be alert to the symptoms of influenza-like illnesses in these women

Physicians had been given instructions to find out from patients with suspected H1N1 infection whether there were any other family members in the high-risk group. In such cases, immediate anti-viral chemo prophylaxis should be started for the family member in the high-risk group � pregnant and post-natal women, asthma and diabetes patients � using the drug Oseltamivir.

However, it was later felt that these precautions at the clinicians end were not enough to detect pregnant women with influenza cases sufficiently early because, according to the GoI guidelines, the advice to those with mild influenza symptoms was to stay at home and take rest.

The Health Department is now utilising the services of its Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) to detect cases of influenza-like illnesses among pregnant women in the community.

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