Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Clean chit for family of five from US after H1N1 scare at city airport

Published Date: 14/6/2009
G Saravanan

Chennai, June 13: This scare at the aerodrome was of a different kind; And, at the end it was somewhat like a hoax: at least a happy story — well, almost. Health officials at the Anna International Airport swung into action in the wee hours on Saturday after a family of five Indians travelling from California was found with suspected swine flu symptoms on their touchdown here. However, by evening the results of their tests showed the parents and their three children didn’t suffer from the (A) H1N1 pandemic. The doctors, nonetheless, advised the family to be in selfquarantine for a few more days, according to officials at the airport.

Earlier in the day, around 2.30 am, Muralitharan, 45, a doctor by profession, his wife Sarika, 35, and their children, aged six and four and six months were suspected to be carrying the H1N1 virus when they arrived in city by a Lufthansa flight. They were found suffering from cough, cold and high fever — visible symptoms for swine flu. During the mandatory screening, the team of doctors quarantined them at an area designated for such cases in the airport premises. Soon they were sent to the Communicable Diseases Hospital (CDH) at Tondiarpet.

CHD Director Dr Lakshmi Devi said several pertinent tests were conducted on the family considering they were coming from the zone that was badly affected with the feared disease. “We also collected blood samples of the quarantined persons to check for H1N1 virus.” However, the Chennai Corporation that runs the hospital later informed that the doctors did not find any clinically visible symptoms of swine flue on the five persons. “No test proved them being HINI-positive,” Health Officer P Kuganantham told newspersons. Doctors at Chennai airport have in the last few weeks collected around 40 blood samples of air passengers with suspected swine flu virus from different destinations — and all of tested negative during clinical tests, he added. The CDH discharged all the five, but as a precaution counselled self-quarantine for few days at home. The airport sources said the family had their plan to take the next available flight to Coimbatore so as to reach their native Telugupalayam. The checkup did derail that, but the family can still breathe easy.,

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