The H1NI outbreak may have subsided but scientists at the premier National Institute of Virology have warned that the virus continues to pose a serious threat.
The scientists at the virology laboratory, who conducted detailed tests and studies, concluded that the severity of H1N1 is less than that reported for Spanish Flu in 1918 but higher than other pandemics of the 20th century.
"Deaths are being reported from Maharashtra till now. Five deaths due to the virus have been reported this month alone from Pune," Indian Council of Medical Research Director General M V Katoch said while commenting on the study.
He said that the pandemic influenza "should be considered as serious health threat and the unprecedented global response seems justified."
Already 1,509 deaths and 31,826 positive cases due to H1N1 flu have been reported since May 2009.
With 454 deaths, Maharashtra is the worst hit in the country.
The study, conducted by a team of doctors including Akhilesh Mishra, Director, National Institute of Virology, Pune, disclosed that the cases positive for pandemic H1N1 virus had significantly higher risk of hospitalisation than those positive for seasonal influenza A viruses.
According to the findings, out of the 93 influenza related deaths that were reported between August one to October 31, last year in urban Pune, 57 patients had tested positive for H1N1 virus while only eight deaths were reported in seasonal flu cases.
In rural Pune, 27 deaths were reported due to H1N1 virus and one death was due to seasonal flu, the study showed.
Referring to the data, Katoch said, "The data also on the cumulative fatality of rural and urban Pune suggests that with time the epidemic is spreading to rural areas."