81 H1N1 cases in Mumbai in March, up from 40 in February
Swine flu (H1N1) cases reported in Mumbai doubled in March, compared to the previous month, according to data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) health department. There were 81 cases in March, compared to 40 in February.
Swine flu, a respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses with symptoms such as cold, cough and fever, generally spreads rapidly during winters.
However, there has been a spike in cases across India even as warmer weather sets in.
Experts said the fluctuating temperatures in the city in March and high humidity could be helping the virus spread. Civic officials also cited better surveillance for more cases being reported. Last year, no cases were reported between January and March.
Across the state, too, the number of cases has gone up, said state surveillance officer Pradip Awate. Pune, Nashik and Nagpur saw the most number of cases in March. State data reveals that 1,134 cases were reported across the state between January 1 and April 4, of which 73 people died.
“In March, however, while the the number of cases rose, casualties dipped. One reason is that people are seeking treatment earlier than before. People are aware of the symptoms,” Dr Awate said.
“Minute changes in the temperature affect the transmission dynamics of a virus,” said Abhay Chowdhary, the former director of the Parel-based Haffkine Institute. “When the temperature is low, the virus remains suspended in air particles and leads to a rise in the number of swine cases,” he said.
Private practitioners in Mumbai confirmed that they were treating more cases now. “I am seeing at least two to three patients a week,” said infectious diseases specialist, Dr Om Srivastava. “The numbers this year are higher compared to the same period last year. For patients who belong to the high-risk group, we are immediately starting them on Tamiflu,” he said.
Another specialist, requesting that he not be named, said he was seeing cases even among people who have taken vaccinations for swine flu.
Dr Padmaja Keskar, city’s executive health officer, urged people to avoid self treatment and visit a medical facility in case of cold, cough and fever, to ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment.
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