With the death of a fiveyear-old girl from Santacruz on Wednesday, H1N1, also known as swine flu, claimed its 33rd victim this year. While diseases such as malaria and dengue have been under control this year, swine flu continues to worry doctors.
The highly contagious, H1N1 has been reporting a steady increase, both in numbers of cases as well as deaths. “This year, the vector-borne diseases have not wreaked havoc as they did in the past. On an average, I see about one in five patients testing positive for dengue,” said Dr Amol Manrekar, consultant physician, who practices in Kurla and Ghatkopar areas.
“The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has done a commendable job of curbing the disease. Patients and doctors have also been more watchful than before,” said Manrekar.
In the past two weeks, six swine flu deaths were reported to the civic epidemiology cell. Although most swine flu deaths have been reported among people who have health conditions that reduce their immunity – such as diabetes and hypertension - healthy people too have died of the infection recently.
“In the context of monsoon diseases, H1N1 has become as much of a problem as leptospirosis was last year because of its mortality rate. Dengue and malaria have taken a back seat owing to the rising public awareness and vaccinations. Hopefully, H1N1 cases too should start to decline as people are now more aware than before and are taking precautions,” said a senior doctor from the medicine department of a BMC hospital.
In 2014, there were more than 600 confirmed cases of dengue reported by the epidemiology cell of the BMC and at least 10 people had succumbed to the disease. However, BMC had acknowledged only seven as confirmed dengue cases. This year, there have been no numbers for dengue and malaria from the civic body in its weekly monsoon ailment report but doctors in private and public hospitals said that there have been fewer such cases.
In addition to swine flu cases, doctors also said that they are seeing a lot of people come down with viral fever, which is present with upper respiratory tract infections. “The weather has been such that there is a significant difference between maximum and minimum temperatures. This has an adverse impact on the immunity. People who have asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are more at risk,” said Dr Shahid Barmare, consultant physician at Kohinoor hospital.