Eight of the 11 H1N1 deaths in India happened due to complications caused by existing diseases, or because diagnosis and treatment were left too late.
Four more people died on Tuesday — one each in Mumbai, Pune, Vadodara and Thiruvananthapuram — pushing the swine flu fatality to 11.
Among those who died was Mumbra resident Saeeda Abdul Dhorajiwala (62), who died at Noor Hospital on Mohammed Ali Road, where she was undergoing treatment for heart disease and diabetes.
Shruti Bhanudas Gawde (13) from Pune, Arya Borde (7) from Vadodara and Wilson (35) from Thiruvananthapuram were the other three fatalities. The death in Kerala was not conclusively established as due to swine flu.
Mumbai’s first H1N1 death was Fahmida Panwala (33), who died on Saturday. “It’s difficult to say that Fahmida’s death was only due to H1N1. She was already suffering from diabetes and hypertension, which could have been the cause of her death,” said Jayraj Thanekar, chief medical officer, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The civic body has also contested the claim that Tuesday’s death was solely due to swine flu.
Severe anaemia — a haemoglobin level of 7, when the normal is 14 — and dependence on cancer-causing chewing tobacco contributed to Gujarat’s first H1N1 fatality, that of Pravin Patel (43) in Ahmedabad, say doctors who treated him.
“The risk of death is high in persons with low resistance and health conditions such as diabetes, anaemia and certain deficiency syndromes that allow the infection to spread faster,” Dr M.M. Anchalia, the superintendent of Civil Hospital told Hindustan Times.
Five persons died of H1N1 infection in Pune, of whom all but one — Shruti Gawde who died on Tuesday — were treated in private hospitals before being taken to Sassoon Hospital, Pune’s designated government hospital to treat H1N1.
“In the four cases, the immediate cause of death was cardiac respiratory arrest. All four were put on artificial respiratory support as breathing obstruction is major symptom of swine flu,” said Dr Jyoti Dhase, in charge of Sassoon Hospital’s swine flu cell. Two persons who died had other medical problems too, she said.
Tingarenagar resident Babasaheb Mane (36), who died on Monday, had pneumonia and was treated at a private hospital before being taken to Sassoon. Sanjay Tilekar (32), too, had a history of heart disease and had suffered a heart attack in the past, said Dr Dhase. Tilekar was treated at a private hospital before being taken to the designated hospital.
India’s first fatality, Rida Shaikh (14), had no existing disorders, said her parents, but her infection was diagnosed many days after she developed symptoms.
Sanjay Balakrishnan (4), who succumbed to multi-organ failure in Chennai on Monday, had more than one complication. He was taken to two private hospitals with complaints of kidney failure, asthma and severe diarrhoea, which can cause life-threatening dehydration, before being taken to a government hospital. “His death cannot be pin-pointed to H1N1 alone as he died of multiple organ failure,” said Dr S. Elango, director of Public Health in Tamil Nadu, who has been tracking the affected cases in the state.