A man wearing face mask arrived at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital (STIDH) and urged the doctors to treat him for bird flu infection. The man told doctors that he might have contracted bird flu.
When the doctors asked what made him think that he might be suffering from bird flu, he said he was suffering from common cold and his throat ached as well. Doctors asked him whether he was a poultry farmer or was exposed to chickens at cold store. The man said he was neither a poultry farmer nor did he work at a meat shop, but that he had eaten chicken the previous night at a restaurant.
"We checked his pressure and temperature. Everything was normal. We advised him not to worry and told him that there was no risk in eating cooked chicken," said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, a virologist at the hospital. He said that every day about half a dozen such patients visit hospital seeking treatment for avian influenza.
The hospital said such people mostly come from the flu hit areas in Bhaktapur, Kavre, Makwanpur, Lalitpur and some parts of Kathmandu.
"There is too much anxiety about the disease," said Dr Pun. He said that people who consume chicken or eggs also come to hospital to consult about the possible infection.
Doctors counsel and send the patients home as they said that a lot of patients do not show any signs of infection. "When they insist on check-up, we send them to the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL)," said Rajesh Shah, a doctor at the hospital. NPHL is the only lab in the country with a facility for testing bird flu. He said bird flu patients suffer from high fever, severe pain in the muscle, throat swell and difficulty in breathing.
NPHL officials said that every day about 30 such patients have been visiting the laboratory since the last one month. "We have conducted tests on over 500 people but we have not found a single case of human infection," Bishnu Prasad Upadhya, a microbiologist at the NPHL, said. He said that the laboratory conducts tests only on those people who show symptoms of bird flu infected people.