Monday, August 17, 2009

Why B'lore is hit

Why B'lore is hit

The city's temperate climate could be conducive to the spread of the killer flu
Bangalore's fatalities are mostly the youth because their social exposure is higher

Sunitha Rao R. Bangalore

With 5 swine-flu deaths, Bangalore has the dark distinction of being a runner-up to Pune, the city with 14 fatalities, India's highest. Mumbai has 2 fatalities, while Ahmedabad, Chennai, Vadodara, Nashik and Trivandrum have 1 fatality each.
With this question weighing on people's minds, we decided to ask the city's experts why this was so. And if there's anything Bangaloreans could do to prevent, and combat, the deadly spread.
One obvious answer: the airconditioned city is located 949 metres above sea level and has a moderate temperature. "A temperature of 27-32 degree C is favourable for the multiplication of the virus, which is why the city has been hit," says Dr Shashikala Manjunath, head of community medicine, Rajarajeswari Medical College. The spread will increase rapidly in the coming days. Add to it the fact that the city has an international airport from where suspected cases trickled in in the initial days of the spread, when swine-flu was only a traveller's disease.
Urban awareness has also pushed the statistic in Karnataka's capital. "People living in metropolitan cities like Bangalore are aware of H1N1 and go for screening if they find symptoms. That is why more positive cases are found here," says Dr Nitin Singh, pediatrician, Lakeside Medical Center and Hospital.
Bangalore's virus-conducive weather actually throws up another grim question: How will the city fight the disease in winter? Already, WHO has warned countries that the virus could change as it circulates, especially in a flu-conducive wintry environment.


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