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Swine flu not a threat

About 80 per cent of those who died of swine flu in Mumbai belonged to one of six high-risk categories, an analysis by the municipal corporation has shown, reports Naziya Alvi.

mumbai Updated: Sep 16, 2009 00:59 IST
Naziya Alvi

About 80 per cent of those who died of swine flu in Mumbai belonged to one of six high-risk categories, an analysis by the municipal corporation has shown.

This pattern is in line with evidence so far that the virus, called H1N1, does not yet pose a general public health risk, but is a worry mainly for those with compromised immune systems.

One of the two swine-flu-infected people who died this week belonged in this category. The citywide toll is now 22.

“This analysis is true internationally also,” said Dr Jehangir Sorabjee, senior physician at Bombay Hospital. “People who have existing respiratory problems, heavy smokers and cardiac patients are prone to catching H1N1 flu due to weak immunities.”

Many of the patients also died because they were diagnosed late and, as a result, started on a dose of the prescribed medicine, Tamiflu, too late, the analysis has also shown. The late diagnosis made patients in the high-risk categories even more vulnerable.

“In most cases, there was a time lapse in the administration of Tamiflu because the victims first went to some private clinics or nursing homes for treatment instead of the treatment centres,” said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner in charge of health. “We noted that, in cases where the diagnosis was quick and Tamiflu was given on time, there is 100 per cent recovery.”

Another pattern to emerge is that although the ratio of men to women in the infected population in the city was balanced, 17 of the 22 victims, or three-fourths of the total, were women.

Mhaiskar did not hazard a guess as to why this might be the case.

“Pregnancy definitely makes women more vulnerable to the infection,” said JP Muliyil, epidemiologist and professor at the community health department at the Christian Medical College in Vellore. “But at this stage, it is premature to say why more women have fallen prey to the infection.”

Only 1 of the 17 women who died was pregnant, however. Four of those who died were infants.


Two more deaths in city

Munira (50) was a diabetic, asthmatic and a patient of hypertension. She was admitted to Nanavati hospital on September 13 with symptoms of swine flu, immediately put on ventilator and given Tamiflu.

Her condition, however, deteriorated and she was declared dead on September 14.

Another young girl, Minal, 29, from Malad died of the virus at the same hospital on September 12. Minal was first admitted to Lifeline Hospital in Malad on September 3.

On September 7, her swabs were collected and she was declared infected a day later. She was then put on Tamiflu. She was later shifted to Nanavati Hospital.

Civic health officials did not find any “co-morbid” condition in Meenal’s case, meaning that she was not a high-risk patient.