With four months yet to go for the year to end, Maharashtra has already recorded 667 swine flu deaths. The toll for 2010, when the state saw the most number of H1N1 fatalities, was 669.
After Nagpur, where 70 people died of swine flu, Mumbai has recorded the second most number of deaths at 61. At present, 27 people in the state are seriously ill with the infection, depending on ventilator support, and another 400 are being treated at several hospitals.
Private hospitals are also treating an average of three to four cases every day. Doctors said cases may rise in the winter again.
“We are expecting a resurgence of the disease by October end. With the change in weather and the setting in of winter, transmission of the virus is at its peak,” said Dr AK Niswade, dean, Nagpur Medical College.
Sujata Saunik, principal secretary, public health department said people and doctors should not wait for test results to start treatment against swine flu.
In an analysis by the health department to understand the reasons for the rising death toll, experts blamed the delay in initiating treatment for the high fatality numbers. About 65% of the patients who died of H1N1 were started on treatment three days after they experienced the first symptoms.
Doctors have stated that oseltamivir works best if started within three days of symptoms.
Though an expert level committee has advised swine flu vaccination to all vulnerable groups, including pregnant women, children, the elderly and people with hypertension and diabetes, doctors said the vaccination should be extended to people without any pre-existing illness.
In at least 40% of the reported deaths, the patient did not have any pre-existing illness that could have triggered the worsening of symptoms.
“There is a need to redefine the high risk category as we are reporting deaths across all age groups. There is very little prediction on how a patient will behave after contracting the virus; many with pre-existing illnesses have done better compared to those without any such disease,” said Dr Om Shrivastav, infectious disease consultant
Medicos fall prey to infection
Dr Pravin Shingare, director of directorate of medical education and research, is admitted with H1N1 infection at St George Hospital, Fort. He was admitted three days ago. Shingare is the chief of all medical colleges in the state
The dean of Chhatrapati Shivaji Hospital in Thane, C Maitra, was diagnosed with swine flu this week. She was treated at the Kalwa hospital. Rajeev Korde, medical superintendent of the hospital, said, “Maitra was diagnosed with swine flu but she has recovered. Doctors are continuously in contact with patients and the dean must have caught the infection from one of them.”