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Five doctors test positive for swine flu

New Delhi

Swine flu has now begun to hit doctors for the first time. Five doctors across the country - 3 in Delhi and 1 each in Pune and Ahmedabad -- have tested positive.

Consequently, the medical fraternity is worried about the risks.

"Doctors are really nervous about treating the swine flu but you must realise that swine flu H1N1 influenza is also a relatively novel thing for doctors also to handle,'' says Dr Arvind Kasthuri, professor, department of community health, St John's Medical College.

In Delhi, among the infected is a head of the department at Safdarjang Hospital.

In Pune, it's an Ayurvedic doctor who ran his clinic in a slum.

The number is small but as they selflessly administer to patients, concern is spreading.

The government is worried. It may translate into reluctance to be in the H1N1 wards.

Dr Renu Bhardwaj, deputy dean at Pune's Sasson Hospital says: ''We are having a sensitization workshop for all the doctors and nurses to weed out fear. Special washbasins have been placed outside the ward so hands are frequently washed. We have provided enough scrubs, slippers and masks. Prophylactic Tamiflu is being given to the people actually working in that ward.''

The doctor infected in Ahmedabad was part of a team at the international airport screening foreign passengers.

In Hyderabad, a similar team of doctors was found not using basic precautions.

Doctors involved with scanning at airport were not taking precautions and not wearing masks.

Says Dr Tapas Sen, West Bengal's nodal officer for H1N1: ''There is a protection protocol for medical staff. If that is adhered to, there should not be any problems.''

Fear of the disease is just one factor

After the Reeda case, private practitioners are also worried about the backlash of a misdiagnosis.

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