Swine flu toll reaches 1,587, but sharp fall recorded in deaths from disease in March

  • Sanchita Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 12, 2015 22:41 IST

India's swine flu outbreak appears to be waning, with the week ending March 8 recording a sharp fall in weekly deaths, which had plateaued at around 270 since February 8, shows surveillance data from states.

India reported 199 deaths last week, which is down by almost 25% over the numbers recorded over the past three weeks.

Till March 11, 27,888 cases and 1,587 deaths have been reported from all 36 states and UTs except five, shows data from the Union Ministry of Health. Over the past 24 hours, 20 deaths were reported from across India.

"Swine flu cases have registered a downward trend over the past 10 days, with deaths also declining during this period. The Union Ministry is in constant touch with states and is providing them the necessary support," Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Jagat Prakash Nadda.

The only states/UTs untouched by swine flu with no cases or deaths are Arunachal, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura and Lakshwadeep.

People between the ages of 31 and 60 years accounted for two in three deaths, shows an analysis of 832 deaths for which data is available. Children under 12 years were the least affected in the current outbreak, accounting for 4% of overall swine flu deaths.

The swine flu outbreak devastated five states, with Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana accounting for 78% of the total deaths till March 8.

Again, more than three in four infections (76%) were reported from five states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra and Telangana.

Delhi has emerged as the best-performing state in controlling infection - while the state 3,658 cases, only 10 deaths have been reported from Delhi and the NCR.

Surveillance data shows that virus shows no gender bias and has affected an almost equal number of men and women: of the 832 deaths studied, 425 were men (51%) men and 407 (49%) women.

Swine flu spreads through droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by touching surfaces contaminated by the droplets. You can protect yourself by staying away from infected persons, frequently washing hands with soap, and cleaning surfaces with disinfectant or warm water regularly.

Symptoms include high fever, extreme breathlessness, lethargy, pain in the chest, loss of appetite and nausea or vomiting.

Three pharma companies in India - Hetero, Natco and Strides Acrolab - are manufacturing oseltamivir, the drug used to treat swine flu. Having the anti-viral prescription drug oseltamivir (better known by one of its brand names, Tamiflu) shortens the duration and severity of illness if the taken within 48 hours of the symptoms appearing. It also makes people less contagious and prevents them from infecting others. Oseltamivir also protects against other strains of influenza, such as influenza A (H3N2) virus, which accounted for 87.5% influenza A cases in the northern hemisphere.

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