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Srinagar

Authorities in Kashmir issued a Swine flu alert as doctors said the H1N1 virus was present in some parts of the local community. “In 2008-2009, we had 53 cases of H1N1 virus which tested positive for the disease. This was because of people carrying the virus coming from outside or those locals who brought it here after visiting places,” G.M. Qadri, an epidemiologist, is reported to have said. “The virus is in parts of our community and we must take adequate precautions to deal with it,” he added. Qadri said the common symptoms of the disease are high grade fever ranging around 104 degrees Fahrenheit, running nose, sore throat and cough.

“We treat the infected people with Tamiflu drug and the infection is treatable. But, prevention is always better,” he said adding “People must wash their hands often, avoid congested places, patients with proven H1N1 infection must not cough or sneeze directly. They must use a tissue paper while they cough or sneeze. Infected people should not attend social functions”. The doctor further advised “Family members of the infected people must be constantly watched for H1N1 virus by carrying out tests on them.”

Last week, an employee of the super specialty Sher-e-Kashmir-Institute of Medical Sciences Soura (SKIMS) died of H1N1 infection while doctors there said they had successfully treated four others during the last five months.

Ever since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the disease has become a seasonal one in India akin to dengue or malaria. Whenever, the temperature dips various states are affected by the virus. Last year, swine flu affected various states throughout the country including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

Simply covering your mouth while sneezing or coughing and/or wearing a mask isn’t enough to protect yourself from the virus.  The H1N1 virus is surprisingly resilient and can survive on door knobs, table tops and other contact surfaces for a long time.

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