Swine flu claims 90 lives in Maharashtra

According to health department officials, no H1N1 death has so far been reported from Mumbai

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The dreaded swine flu virus has claimed almost 90 lives in Maharashtra since January. However, while regions on city's periphery have seen cases of H1N1 infections, the city has not reported any deaths from swine flu, said state public health department officials.

According to statistics sourced from the directorate of health services, a total of 88 deaths due to swine flu have been reported till Tuesday (September 25). The maximum mortalities have taken place in Nashik (26), followed by Pimpri Chinchwad (18), Ahmednagar (8), Pune city (7), Satara and Pune rural (six each), Solapur (three), Akola, Nagpur, Chandrapur and Jalgaon (two each) and Kolhapur, Washim, Osmanabad, Buldhana and Mira Bhayender (one each). A patient from Madhya Pradesh has also passed away in Maharashtra.

Meanwhile, noting that swine flu-related deaths were occurring due to delayed treatment, the state communicable diseases control authority which met under health minister Dr Deepak Sawant on Thursday, said private practitioners should put patients suffering from fever and cold on Oseltamivir if symptoms did not subside within 24 hours. The department is preparing a protocol for private doctors to treat swine flu patients on ventilator support.

So far, a total of 892 swine flu positive cases, including eight from other states, are reported in Maharashtra. A total of 47 patients, including 44 in Pune and three in Nagpur, are on ventilator support.

"The (swine flu infection) trend is rising August onwards. Those with hypertension, diabetes, chronic diseases like cancer, and pregnant women account for mortalities... These groups are part of the high-risk category and hence must seek medical care if they show symptoms of infection," said Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer.

The first swine flu death in India—a 14 year old girl—was recorded in Pune in 2009. According to the health department's statistics, the year 2010 saw 6,118 positive cases and 669 fatalities, which was followed by just 42 positive cases and six deaths in 2011. The year 2012 saw 1,560 cases and 135 fatalities and in 2013, though the number of patients testing positive fell to 643, deaths rose marginally to 149 and in 2014, just 43 deaths and 115 cases were reported.

In 2015, the highest number of swine flu positive cases and deaths were recorded at 8,553 and 905 respectively. The next year, it fell to a much lower 82 cases and 26 deaths. In 2017, the number of positive cases and deaths was 6,144 and 778 respectively.

"No major transmission of swine flu has been seen in Mumbai though it cannot be denied altogether. Though 15 positive cases have been reported from areas surrounding Thane, Navi Mumbai and Mira Bhayender, no positive cases and deaths have been reported in Mumbai," Awate added.

Swine flu is caused by the H1N1 virus. Its symptoms include fever, cough, body ache, nasal secretions, headache, fatigue, loose motions and weakness.

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