New Delhi: With reports of nearly 500 cases of swine flu from across the country this season, doctors and experts say the viral disease sees an upswing during winters but there is no need to panic. Closed and crowded spaces such as offices and air-conditioned homes aided the spread of the disease, say doctors.According to doctors, though H1N1 flu cases peak during this season, infection can be avoided by taking simple precautions such as washing hands frequently, wearing masks and avoiding closed and crowded places. Swine flu is a common occurrence in countries with extreme cold weather such as the United States and parts of Europe, said Randeep Guleria, head, Department of Pulomonary Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). "The only difference is that while cases of swine flu peak in other parts of the world during winter, in India, there are two outbreaks -- one in winter and one in monsoon, specially in South India," Guleria said. According to the health ministry, the country has reported of 456 cases of swine flu till January-end. Rajasthan has seen the maximum number of cases at 246. The flu has claimed 91 lives so far. Guleria said that contrary to popular perceptions, swine flu had nothing to do with pigs. "The virus, when it was initially isolated in Mexico, was found similar to the flu strain found in swine and was thus named that," he said, adding that it was better to call the virus `Pandemic H1N1 2009`. He said enclosed spaces, such offices, and air-conditioned homes were ideal conditions for the spread of the infectious disease.
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