LAHORE - The Punjab Health Department, medical superintendents of public and private hospitals, and doctors on the whole are not yet prepared to handle any epidemic outbreak such as bird flu and swine flu, which has already killed one man in the metropolis. The family members of the swine flu victim and other people, who were in close contact with the deceased, are under threat of catching swine flu virus, which may take a worse turn, if not monitored properly. Sources in the Surveillance of Communicable Disease Control (CDC), Punjab Health Department told The Nation that the doctors had failed to read the symptoms of the communicable diseases including swine flu in time. During the medical check-ups of the patients, doctors ignore symptoms of communicable diseases like swine flu, bird flu, dengue fever, gastro and malaria until the patients enter in fatal phase of the diseases, they maintained, adding, at fatal stage it becomes too late to save patients when doctors and medical superintendents of hospitals start collecting patients blood and swabs samples for sending the same for reports from the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad. Swine flu virus, which is similar to bird flu virus, destroys human lungs and blood cells in a few days. In routine, doctors remain busy in prescribing high cost medication of big pharmaceutical companies, which grease their palms to sell spurious drugs to the masses. Medical superintendents and officers on the whole have frustrated epidemic control initiatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) by ignoring the epidemic control guidelines. The CDC officials said that medical reports of samples of the NIH usually took two to three-day, but by this time a patient, who had been already admitted to the ICU ward, hardly survived. The swine flu victim, Iftikhar Ahmed, 38, a physiotherapist, was being treated in the Social Security Hospital. His expired due to both, the delay in diagnosis and the reports from NIH. Sources said that Iftikhar was taking treatment from various doctors before being admitted to the Social Security Hospital on November 30 with symptoms of flu, high fever, cough and headache. It was unfortunate that not a single doctor could recommend him in time tests for swine flu virus, they regretted. They further said that swine flu positive report of Iftikhar reached the hospital from the NIH on Monday (Dec 7) at 4:25 pm while he breathed his last on ventilator at 5:35pm. Treatment is available for swine influenza. Capsules and tablets namely Oseltamivir can control virus growth if given at early stage. The sources reveal that the WHO unit at the NIH conducts free tests of swine flu, but doctors fail to send samples as they lack ability to understand a swine flu case. The WHO is also providing free of cost medicine for bird flue and swine flu. Through the Punjab Health Department, it has sent free of cost 2000 tables/capsules each to 9 teaching hospitals and 1000 each to district headquarters hospitals in the Punjab. Additional Director Health Services/Disease Surveillance Dr Mubashir A Malik while talking to The Nation said that doctors remained busy in selling medicines of pharmaceutical companies to patients in their prescriptions, and did not pay attention to symptoms of communicable diseases. Director Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Punjab Dr Mubashir Attique Azhar told The Nation that about a month ago directives were given to the heads of all teaching hospitals and DHQ hospitals to adopt swine flue control measures and notify suspect patients to the Health Department immediately. He further said that new directions have been sent to hospitals to designate isolation wards in hospitals for keeping swine flu patients so that its spread could be avoided. On Tuesday, Executive District Officer (EDO) Health Lahore Dr Fayyaz Ahmad Ranjha was asked by the high-ups of the Health Department to visit Rangilpur village, the native town of victim Iftikhar, to asses the chances of spread of virus in the family and close contacts of Iftikhar, and take samples of the suspects for sending the same to the NIH in time. Similarly, the Social Security Hospital where Iftikhar died has also been asked to take preventive measures against spread of swine flu virus.