HYDERABAD: At a time when neighbouring states like Maharashtra and Karnataka have sounded an alarm over the increasing number of swine flu cases, back home in Hyderabad the numbers are limited to a handful, say doctors.

respiratory virus hits Hyderabad

However, what they are intrigued by is the steady influx of acute respiratory illness that carry typical symptoms of swine flu but are testing negative for the virus. In fact, they are testing negative even for Covid-19.
Doctors say this is likely due to the advent of an unidentified respiratory virus, which they are studying at the moment.
They are being tested at Gandhi Hospital, Fever Hospital and the Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM) for swine flu, Covid-19, influenza A and influenza B viruses.
"We have been witnessing this pattern for the last two to three months. There have been many cases of acute respiratory illnesses which have tested negative for coronavirus, swine flu and influenza. Generally, influenza-like illnesses that show symptoms like breathing difficulty and low oxygen saturation are expected to test positive either for swine flu or Covid-19, but that's not the case here," said Dr M Raja Rao, superintendent, Gandhi Hospital, adding that these could be some other respiratory virus.
Dr P Shankar, director of the Institute of Preventive Medicine, shared a similar experience. He, however, maintained that there is no reason for alarm just yet. "The recovery rate in all these cases has been 100% until now. And the recovery is happening within five days of symptomatic treatment. Moreover, the temperature fluctuations create negative conditions for the viruses to survive and hence we do not expect a surge in any of these cases. Few cases of swine flu as well as Covid-19 are there due to the endemic nature of the viruses, but even then the situation is not worrying," he added.
According to experts, there are over 200 respiratory viruses that affect humans, most common of them being influenza viruses, rhinovirus, enterovirus, coronaviruses including SARS and MERS, respiratory syncytial virus and parainfluenza virus.
These are mild in form and are not tested currently, as they are self-limiting to five to seven days.
Low numbers because of poor testing?
While sources said that a few swine flu cases are still being reported from government and private hospitals, the state health authorities claimed otherwise. According to them, swine cases so far this year have been less than 50 (256 cases of swine flu were reported last year). "We see swine flu cases from time to time but not everybody is getting tested. Many people who have had symptoms are taking paracetamol tablets and recovering within three days. Hence they do not even turn up for testing. They could be affected by the virus but overall confirmed cases are very few," said a health official.

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