A 58-year-old man from Varanasi is the fifth person to die of swine flu in the city. At 12:30pm on Friday, Hemant Singh passed away at Kasturba Hospital, Chinchpokli where he had been admitted, after two doctors failed to diagnose the H1N1 infection.
While the four other patients who died were brought to Mumbai hospitals from outside the city, doctors said Singh could have picked up the infection in the city. This is because he came to the city to visit his relatives on January 22 and took ill on January 29 and the incubation period of the infection is one to four days.
“It was only when he had difficulty breathing that the local doctor asked us to get him admitted and he only deteriorated further. There was a delay in his diagnosis and subsequent treatment,” said Singh’s nephew, Rajiv.
On Friday, five new cases of swine flu were reported from various hospitals, taking the number of cases in the city to 14 this year. A 65-year-old patient from Mulund is still critical.
So far, 33 people have already succumbed to the infection in the state, of which five died in Mumbai hospitals. The maximum number of deaths has been recorded in Nagpur.
To understand the reason for the increasing number of deaths because of the infection, the Union health ministry has asked state health officials to conduct an analysis. “Our observation is that delay in initiating treatment is the common factor in 70% of the deaths,” said Dr Satish Pawar, director, state health department. He said this weekend, local doctors in all districts will be sensitised about swine flu.
State health officials have already started collecting the medical history of patients admitted and those who have died of swine flu at various hospitals in the state. “It appears mortality was higher in patients whose treatment was delayed compared to those who were started on Oseltamivir [Tamiflu] within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms,” said Dr Kanchan Jagtap from the state health department, who is studying the cases in Nagpur.
The aim of the analysis is to identify the factors leading to the deaths, said health officials. Doctors said pre-exiting conditions are to be blamed for the sudden deaths in patients. “Four of the five patients who died in the city had diabetes. Even those with well-controlled diabetes suddenly got worse despite increasing the dose of Oseltamivir,” said Dr Om Shrivastav, director, infectious disease department, Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road.