Swine flu cases spike across Maharashtra in March
Mumbai has reported 48 cases of swine flu and four deaths in March. However, the four deaths were of patients who came to the city from the neighbouring districts of Palghar and Thane for treatment.Updated: Mar 18, 2019 10:41 IST
Maharashtra reported 812 cases of swine flu and 55 deaths between January 1 and March 15 this year. Half of these cases and deaths were reported in March alone. The state recorded 2,594 cases and 462 deaths in all 12 months of 2018.
Swine flu generally spreads during winters, but there has been a spike in cases across India even as warmer weather sets in. The National Centre for Disease Control reported 14,803 confirmed cases of swine flu across India till February 24. Experts attributed the spread to a prolonged winter and mild seasonal flu in 2018. Mumbai has reported 48 cases of swine flu and four deaths in March. However, the four deaths were of patients who came to the city from the neighbouring districts of Palghar and Thane for treatment. A majority of the cases in Maharashtra were reported from Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Thane and Palghar, officials at the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) said. Dr P Awte, state surveillance officer, DHS, said the focus is on vulnerable populations of the state from the districts with the most number of cases.
“Patients with immunodeficiency disorders or lifestyle diseases, children, pregnant women and senior citizens are worst hit, and so, our surveillance is intensified around them,” said Dr Awte.
“We have also procured more than 1.25 lakh swine flu vaccines that we will start dispensing from April,” he said. Last year, more than 1.55 lakh people were vaccinated against the flu in Maharashtra.
In Mumbai, the spread of the infection is under control, said Dr Padmaja Keskar, the executive health officer, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). “All deaths reported in the city were of patients who had come here for treatment. It’s likely that the change in climatic conditions is aiding the spread of the virus,” she said. Experts, however, are yet to pinpoint the exact cause — climatic change, an antigenic shift (a new sub-type of virus created by combination of two or more different strains) or an antigenic drift (mutation within the virus genes) could be factors.
Dr Om Srivastava, director, infectious diseases department, Jaslok Hospital, pointed out that the number of patients may rise in the coming months, but the outbreak is nowhere close to the 2009 pandemic, when 937 people died of swine flu and 9,943 cases were reported in Maharashtra.
“Most of the patients are treated in out-patient departments and don’t need hospital admission. They are responding well to the treatment, which is a positive sign. Climate change may be a contributing factor, but certainly not the only cause of the national spread of the virus,” said Dr Srivastava, The primary symptoms of swine flu include fever, lethargy, headache, cough, sore throat and nausea. While most people recover within a week, those with low immunity, and chronic diseases such as asthma, lung diseases, diabetes, cancer, kidney or heart problems, risk serious complications and even death from multi-organ failure.