Maharashtra has witnessed a sudden spurt in swine flu in January this year, with nine people reported dead as a result of the influenza H1N1 virus. The virus has showed resurgence in various parts of the country.
On Friday, the Maharashtra state health department recorded 35 cases and nine deaths because of the virus, putting the mortality rate of the infection at 25% in January 2015.
Telangana has recorded 11 deaths and 173 cases of the H1N1 infection between Janaury 1 and 21 this year. Delhi, Gujarat and Rajasthan have also recorded a spike in swine flu cases this month.
"Maharashtra is not the only state which is seeing a rise in swine flu cases. Across the country, there is a surge in H1N1 cases. We have asked all district hospitals to screen patients with H1N1 like symptom," said Dr Pradeep Awate, assistant director, state health department.
Unlike during the previous years, when majority of H1N1 deaths were reported among vulnerable population, this season the virus, which has killed over 300 people since 2011, has affected healthy individuals also, doctors said.
"It is known that H1N1 infection leads to complications in people with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension in the elderly. If the infection is proving deadly in the healthy populations, people need to be cautious," said Dr Om Shrivastav, director, infectious diseases department, Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road.
Swine flu deaths have been recorded in Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad districts in Maharashtra. Four people died of the infectious disease in Nagpur and three in Pune, according to the state health department. The youngest patient to die of H1N1 infection in the state was a 26-year-old man, the state health officials said. Four deaths were reported in the age-group of 51-60 years, and the others were reported in the younger age-group.
Doctors said that patients suffering from fever, running nose and sore throat should get a H1N1 screening done.
"There are sporadic cases in Pune also. It is difficult to test all the patients for H1N1 infection. Compared to other western countries, the burden of H1N1 infection is low even when our population does not get the vaccination for the flu," said a senior Pune-based doctor, adding that indiscriminately administering the antiviral drug oseltamivir only lead to resistance.
Private laboratories have been charging approximately Rs 5,000 - Rs 8,000 to test the H1N1 samples.
Swine flu cases in Maharashtra