As swine flu claimed three more victims on Thursday, taking the toll to 78, health officials said most of the deaths had occurred because the patients reported late for treatment.
"We had decided to do a limited analysis of death cases. So we collected case sheets of 30 random cases from seven affected states and did medical analysis on them. The prime reason for death is people coming late for treatment. The study has reasserted it," said RK Srivastava, director general in the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Srivastava said the study also showed that most of those who had died were in the age group 14 to 44. "Most of these deaths are in the young productive age," he added.
He said three more deaths were reported on Thursday, one each in Bangalore, Nashik and Pune. Meanwhile, 123 people tested positive for the Influenza A (H1N1) virus, taking the total number affected with the contagious disease to 3,396. The death toll has jumped to 78, he added.
Speaking about the study, he said: "Most of the people who have died came late to the hospitals and died on the fifth day of treatment. The most common symptoms were excessive cough and breathlessness," he added.
Srivastava said in most of the deaths, the infection had spread widely in the chest and H1N1 Pneumonitis had kicked in.
The swine flu cases were bracketed in three categories - those who had mild flu-like symptoms, those with high fever, and those with chest congestion and other flu-like symptoms. "Most deaths are of those who fall in the last category," he added.
Srivastava said those falling in the second and third category should immediately go to the identified health facility, while those in the first category could go to private health facilities.
"The best way is to report it early so there is better redressal and treatment chance," he added.
However, he clarified that the study was in its nascent stage. "Analysis will have to be compared with other positive case before ascertaining a clear trend because the sample size is still small," he added.
He said the emphasis was earlier on providing testing facilities, but now it focussed on capacity building, diagnosis and treatment.