The H1N1 infection killed 905 people in the state in 2015, 35% higher than 2011, when the infection was at its peak.
The state reported 8,583 cases of swine flu in 2015, which means the mortality rate was more than 10%. “Maharashtra has reported high mortality, but it could be because of a robust surveillance system. We are recording all cases of swine flu in the state,” said Dr Pardeep Awate, in charge of swine flu programme in the state.
Experts said high mortality, despite the availability of vaccines and treatment, is a cause for concern.
While the government procured 1 lakh vaccines in August, only 30,000 people in the state opted for vaccination.
The Communicable Disease Committee set up by the state government had said that mortality rate was higher among pregnant women,
diabetics and people with hypertension.
So the state health department in August started a free vaccination programme for pregnant women. In December, the programme was extended to those suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
Although there have been reports of mutation of the H1N1 virus, government officials have denied it.
“It is now beyond doubt that the virus has mutated. In the past five years, we have observed a cyclic pattern, wherein the infection gradually declines after a rise, like what was seen in 2015,” said Dr Awate.
He added that the immunity developed against the infection this year may protect people from it in the coming years.
Mumbai recorded 70 H1N1 deaths last year. Doctors said while the city witnessed a drop in the number of cases in December, Nagpur, Nashik and Pune have reported a higher incidence of cases and deaths in the month.