Despite attempts by the state health department to downplay the incidence of swine flu in Madhya Pradesh, the high mortality rate among those afflicted by it is actually alarming. Bhopal tops the death toll with seven out of 28 patients testing positive for H1N1 virus succumbing during treatment. Indore is not far behind, where five of as many patients have died of the dreaded virus.
In fact, the incharge of swine flu cell at the directorate of health, Dr KK Thassu, issued a circular some days ago asking people not to be scared of swine flu as it is no more an epidemic but only an endemic disease which could be cured through medication. At that time, swine flu scare seemed to be receding as most of the suspected swine flu patients were testing negative and those admitted for treatment were responding well at both government and private hospitals. But in the past few days, the situation has changed dramatically.
On Saturday, nine out of 11 samples sent for confirmation of swine flu tested positive, giving a clear indication that the infection was on the rise and facilities for its treatment grossly inadequate.
Another remarkable aspect of swine flu scare this season is the fact that a number of doctors are also catching the infection. Two doctors of LBS Hospital in Bhopal tested positive for swine flu on Monday. In Jabalpur, two doctors including the dean of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College are being treated for swine flu. Another doctor in the city, who had tested positive for the disease, has since been discharged. But to their credit, doctors in Jabalpur have not allowed any swine flu patient to die though number of persons testing positive in the confirmation test is more or less the same as Bhopal and Indore -- 26 to be precise.
In the wake of a growing number of doctors catching the infection, the directorate of health has made it mandatory for all the doctors and paramedical staff coming in direct contact with swine flu patients to get themselves vaccinated.
"We are calling it focal outbreak as the disease is prevalent more in specific pockets while not so in other areas. In Maharashtra, the situation is worse. Over 1,100 people have tested positive and 68 deaths reported due to swine flu and there it has been declared an epidemic. In MP too, the situation is worsening. Climate is also conducive for growth of H1N1 virus but to say that we are ill-prepared won't be correct. Had it been so, there would have been more patients and more casualities," Dr Thassu told.
The chief medical and health officer (CMHO), Dr Pankaj Shukla, said the situation was not so bad in Bhopal as it appeared because patients from all over the state were coming here for treatment. "This season is conducive for spread of infectious diseases but we are keeping a tight leash over the situation and constant monitoring is being carried out," he added.