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Diabetics, HIV infected at more Swine flu risk

May 15, 2009 01:00 PM IST India India

New Delhi: There's no question that the Influenza A H1N1 virus is extremely contagious and spreading rapidly. And there is also no doubt that some people could be at a greater risk than others.

The World Health Organisation now warns that people with compromised immunity due to immuno-deficiency diseases like HIV/AIDS and leukaemia, for example, are at an increased risk. The organisation has warned countries with a major HIV population to take all possible measures.

Director Communicable Diseases, WHO, Dr Jai P Narayan says, "People living with HIV have a low immune response. Common infection may be life threatening for them.

People already suffering from respiratory and lung diseases like TB and asthma must also be careful about this flu virus. What's worse is that there are also concerns now that people with diabetes need to be extra careful of the infection.

"Those who have poorly controlled Diabetes - those who are extremes of age like the elderly or Type 1 Diabetes in case of children - or those who have additional medical conditions that can compromise their immunity, such people have to be particularly careful," says Endocrinologist at Apollo hospital, Dr Ambrish Mithal.

To put things in perspective, regular human flu kills 2,50,000 to 5,00,000 world-wide annually. In India, the big killers include:

  • HIV - Over 3 lakh people a year
  • TB - Over 4 lakh people a year
  • Cancer - Over 5 lakh people a year

Until a case comes up in India, any sort of frenzy is perhaps premature but with additional fears that Swine flu may also mix with Bird flu, one needs to remain alert.