According to health ministry data, 22,186 cases of swine flu have been reported across India. With a toll of 488, Maharashtra remains the worst-affected, followed by Gujarat, with 343 deaths.
With states witnessing an unprecedented spurt in swine flu cases and nearly 1,100 people succumbing to the virus attack so far this year, the country seems to be in the grip of a major outbreak. With a toll of 488, Maharashtra remains the worst-affected, followed by Gujarat, with 343 deaths.
According to health ministry data, 22,186 cases of swine flu have been reported across India, with experts attributing the increased incidence to a “change in the virus’s strain”.
The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and AIIMS in Delhi and Pune’s National Institute of Virology have found that the H1N1 strain in circulation this year is different from that seen in previous years. “The virus this year is of the Michigan strain. Earlier, it was mostly the California strain,” NCDC director Dr A C Dhariwal told TOI. He said, however, the role of the new strain is yet to be proved scientifically.
India saw its most crippling outbreak of the H1N1 influenza, also called swine flu because initially the transmission occurred through infected pigs, in 2009 and 2010, when it claimed the lives of more than 2,700 people.
This year, Maharashtra has contributed to more than 45% of all H1N1 casualties and one-fourth of the confirmed cases since January. The state’s H1N1 toll for all of 2016 was 25.
Most deaths were in the working age group of 25-50 years. “It simply emphasises the importance of self-isolation when suffering from an air-borne disease like influenza,” said said Dr Satish Pawar, head of Maharashtra’s directorate of health services. Gujarat has recorded 4,741 cases this year, with a mortality rate of 7.23%.
Nearly 152 deaths in the past fortnight alone have triggered panic even as the government declared “seasonal flu” to be the cause. Casualties this year have shot up five times compared to 2016.
Uttar Pradesh is experiencing an even more dire H1N1 onslaught than 2009, according to state health department data. A total of 2,798 H1N1 cases have been reported in UP so far, against 871 in 2009. There have been 64 deaths, compared to 17 in 2009.
Punjab has reported 31 fatalities, and Himachal Pradesh 27. In Madhya Pradesh, there have been 23 deaths and over 550 cases this year. State health minister Sharad Jain said, “Only god can be blamed for H1N1 deaths.”
Rajasthan has seen 910 cases and 86 deaths so far. In 2016, the number of swine flu cases in Telangana was 173; by August 28 this year, the number had already reached 1,704. Even the summer months saw a high number of cases in the state this year, which is unprecedented, experts say.
Kerala saw 74 of 1,308 cases registered till August 30 resulting in death; 2017 marks the third time since 2011 when the state has reported over 1,000 cases.
Tamil Nadu has recorded around 3,000 H1N1 cases and 15 deaths since January. “Health centres reported these cases mostly in February and March,” director of public health Dr K Kolandaisamy said. In Goa, more than 190 persons contracted swine flu, of which 19 died. Four of Assam’s 200 patients have died. There have been five deaths in West Bengal.