6 of 10 who died of swine flu in Maharashtra had hypertension, diabetes, cancer | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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6 of 10 who died of swine flu in Maharashtra had hypertension, diabetes, cancer

Mumbai city news: Of the 261 victims this year, 150 had non-communicable diseases, and all were between 25 and 45 years, state data shows; Maharashtra records most deaths in India

mumbai Updated: Jun 30, 2017 09:12 IST
Aayushi Pratap

Six of ten people who died of H1N1 in Maharashtra this year had hypertension, diabetes and cancer when they copped the infection, data from the state’s public health department show.

The country saw its worst swine flu epidemic in 2009, after which there was a spike in cases in 2015. But this year, the spread of the disease is becoming a major public health concern for Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Kerala — states that have reported the most cases.

Dr Pradip Awate, the state’s surveillance officer, said two-thirds of H1N1 victims this year were people with diabetes or hypertension, or both.

“Of the 261 patients who died, 57% of them had hypertension and/or diabetes. Others had conditions like myeloma (cancer), liver and kidney problems.” he said. All the people who have died were between 25 and 45 years, he said.

Even in 2015, a majority of the people who had succumbed to the H1N1 infection had underlying illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, said Dr Anita Mathew-Davis, an infectious disease specialist at the civic-run Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion. “Diabetics, people with heart, liver and kidney conditions are in an ‘immuno-compromised’ state. They do not have a robust immune response like healthy people do,” she said.

In Maharashtra, 1,730 cases of swine flu have been reported so far this year. The state has also seen the most swine flu deaths (261), said a senior public health official.

READ: Mumbaiites, don’t ignore that fever: 5 more swine flu deaths in a week

A growing concern, according to Mathew-Davis, is that adults with such non-communicable diseases (NCDs) do not realise the importance of vaccinations and do not take them. “NCDs are definitely on the rise and the awareness about adult vaccinations in the country is poor. It is unfortunate the numbers of swine flu deaths and cases are on a rise, when the disease is actually preventable,” she said.

A junior doctor from the Kasturba Medical Hospital, Chinchpokli, said he has a hard time convincing patients to get vaccinated.

“People who are referred from small primary health centres don’t want to take vaccinations, largely because they don’t understand how it works,” he said. Doctors said they were also worried because swine flu cases were getting diagnosed late, leaving a substantial number of patients with complications.

“The key to beating the infection is early diagnosis and starting Tamiflu on the second day the symptoms start showing,” said Dr Om Srivastava, an infection disease specialist. “Patients who should be started on antivirals are being prescribed antibiotics. This trend of giving antibiotics for viral infections is adding to the growing problem of resistance,” he said.

Meanwhile, state officials said they were putting in a lot of effort to ensure people, especially those in the high risk groups such as diabetics, people with hypertension, the elderly and pregnant women, get vaccinated. Experts said this drive is to prevent the virus from spreading further.

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