Even as Delhi grapples with dengue crisis, health experts have warned that citizens may next be confronted with the deadly swine flu, which is likely to hit the national capital with change of season.
"The swine flu carrier, the H1N1 influenza virus, is prone to appear when the temperatures dip and winter arrives. The issue is that the disease spreads through air and not via a vector, as in dengue, and thus transmission is more rapid.
"Elderly people, diabetics, those with kidney problems, cancer patients and pregnant women are at risk and thus should take precautions," said Dr J C Suri, Professor and Head of Pulmonary Medicine at Safdarjung hospital.
According to a senior doctor at AIIMS, the hospitals in the city last year had faced infrastructural issues in handling the large number of swine flu cases and stressed on the need for public awareness to check the spread of the infection.
"There was a huge rush of people at OPDs who wanted to be tested for swine flu and many of them testing positive had to be admitted at the isolation wards. There was a time, when there was shortage of space…"
"With limited manpower and infrastructure, the hospital authorities faced a real hard time dealing with the crisis. The H1N1 infection is contagious and can be transmitted from person to person. The virus of this disease spreads by just sneezing, coughing or coming in direct contact with the infected person.
"So awareness among people about the cautions they can take at their level can play a vital role in checking the spread of the disease," said the doctor.
When contacted, Health department officials said they have already started the preparatory work to deal with any emergency arising out of H1N1.
"This is the dengue season. Next in line is the swine flu in winter. However, we have already started stocking up on drugs, diagnostic kits and other equipment required to combat the disease," a Delhi health department official said.
Swine Influenza (H1N1) is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza virus and spreads from person to person through coughing, sneezing or through touch. The medicine generally prescribed for the disease is Tamiflu, which must be taken only under doctor's prescription.
Swine flu had assumed epidemic proportions last year, afflicting over 4,259 people and claiming 12 lives in the city.