Fever killed six Mumbai residents in the past two weeks, becoming the second-biggest killer among communicable diseases after swine flu, according to the civic health department. Ten city residents succumbed to the H1N1 infection, while six patients died at various hospitals with the primary complaint of fever. “Once the autopsy reports arrive, we can determine the cause,” said Dr Mini Khetarpal, chief of civic epidemiology cell. Deaths as a result of fever were reported in Byculla, Parel, Borivli and Grant Road.
Fever is the most common symptom in all ailments. “It could also be a viral fever-related death, but autopsy reports are the only confirmation,” said Dr Khetarpal.
Swine flu, however, continues to affect the city, with cases increasing by 50% in the past two weeks. In the first week of August, 90 people contracted the infection, but the number jumped to 138 cases in the second week. The latest victim is a 64-year-old man from Goregaon, who died at Siddharth Hospital. Civic officials said the man died of an infection despite receiving oseltamivir (anti-swine flu medicine) for six days. “He was known to have diabetes and hypertension [conditions that complicate the case]. He also had prostate cancer which had spread,” said a civic official. He died on Tuesday within four days of hospitalisation.
People with pre-existing illnesses are vulnerable to the infection, which has killed 38 people this year. In 2009, when the infection was first reported in Mumbai, 30 swine flu deaths were reported with 1,497 cases. “We were not aware about the treatment and diagnosis of the infection in 2009. However, now that we know the treatment protocols and have the adequate medicines and diagnostic facilities, the high mortality is unwarranted,” said a senior doctor from a private hospital.
Dr Om Shrivastav, infectious disease consultant, said, “There is better awareness compared to the past, but we should also understand the virus has changed in the past five years. There is a need to study the response of the immune system of people with and without any existing illness.”
Another swine flu death — that of a 58-year-old man from Thane — was reported at Seven Hills Hospital, Andheri. Like the Goregaon resident, the Thane resident also had diabetes, hypertension which worsened his condition. He died on Wednesday, a week after he was hospitalised.