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2,500 swine flu cases in just a week: NCDC

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
Mar 06, 2019 08:52 AM IST

More than 2,500 cases of seasonal influenza (H1N1), also known as swine flu, were recorded in just one week in India, between February 24 and March 3, according to a report by the National Centre for Disease Control.

More than 2,500 cases of seasonal influenza (H1N1), also known as swine flu, were recorded in just one week in India, between February 24 and March 3, according to a report by the National Centre for Disease Control. It also shows that 17,366 cases and 530 deaths were recorded in the country until March 3.

Swine flu suspect patients waiting for their turn outside swine flu screening centre Swine Flu (H1N1 Influenza Virus) ward at the Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital's Special Swine Flu Ward, at RML Hospital, in New Delhi, India, on Monday, February 23, 2015.(Hindustan Times file photo)
Swine flu suspect patients waiting for their turn outside swine flu screening centre Swine Flu (H1N1 Influenza Virus) ward at the Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital's Special Swine Flu Ward, at RML Hospital, in New Delhi, India, on Monday, February 23, 2015.(Hindustan Times file photo)

The number of cases reported in the first two months of the year is much higher than the 14,992 cases recorded in the entire year in 2018. Last year, 1,103 deaths had been reported. The high number of cases this year could be because more people are getting tested, experts said.

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“H1N1 is just like any other seasonal influenza, but because people hear about it in the news and are aware they ask to be tested. Also, H1N1 is the only flu for which there is a test available in the hospitals. So the higher numbers could be because of more testing rather than a higher number of cases in the community. This could also be the reason why the number of deaths is lower,” said Dr Ekta Gupta,additional professor of Virology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), Delhi.

Of the 530 deaths that have been reported so far, 254 were from just two states — Rajasthan and Gujarat. These two states have also reported the highest number of cases.

So far, 4,317 people in Rajasthan and 3,408 people in Gujarat have tested positive for H1N1. With 3,134 cases, Delhi is not far behind. Of the total, 408 cases were reported this week in the national capital.

This shows a declining trend, with the highest increase over a week being 609 cases reported two weeks ago. “Prolonged winters in Rajasthan and Delhi could also be the reason for the higher number of flu cases being reported,” said Gupta.

The numbers could further go up during the monsoon when India experiences another peak of seasonal influenza cases.

Doctors say that the transmission of flu can be prevented by following proper hand hygiene, staying away from crowded places if possible, and staying at home and taking rest if a person has a fever. Most people recover on their own without any treatment. The young, the old, pregnant women, and people with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney or liver disease, may need to take Tamiflu if they have a fever.

A very small percentage of people need hospitalisation if they develop respiratory symptoms. Annual flu vaccines are recommended for those at risk.

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