Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) has cautioned the public against possible H1N1 outbreak in valley in view of recent uptick in the number of H1N1 cases.
It said the recent spike in H1N1 cases and deaths in states of Maharashtra and Rajasthan has sounded alarm bells in Kashmir.
The unpredictability and changing behaviour of the virus makes it difficult to assess the timing, severity and length of the outbreak.
In a study published in Cell Host and Microbe, 2014 Indian H1N1 virus has undergone mutation that possibly made the virus more virulent and contagious and might also allow it to elude the existing flu shots that cover 2009 pandemic strain.
These mutations might explain why the current outbreak which should have faded with the onset of warmer weather continues.
While the government continues to vehemently deny new mutations in the circulating virus, it has thus far failed to support the claim convincingly.
A March 14, 2015 report in The Lancet makes it abundantly clear that India has not shared some critical information with the World Health Organization that would help determine if the circulating strains are the same as the two strains that have shown resistance to the anti-viral drug.
In February 2015 H1N1 outbreak, Kashmir witnessed aggressive behaviour of the virus which was responsible for high hospitalizations and deaths.
SKIMS research lab reportedly failed in surveillance and no effort was made to observe any change in the virus and find out whether possible drifted strain is matching current vaccine.
Valley is sitting on thorns of yet another H1N1 outbreak and there is no better time for health authorities than now to act.
Vaccination is the single best way to protect people from flu and even if the virus has changed, vaccine can still protect people because of cross protection.
Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 2015-2016 flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and old and people should ideally get vaccinated before flu season begins.
Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications but are too young to get flu vaccine, so it is mandatory for caregivers of these infants to get vaccine.
The time is to take influenza more seriously, especially since H1N1 and H3N1 have become seasonal influenza.