85 swine flu deaths in Maharashtra in 2017, up from 25 in 2016
The H1N1 virus, or swine flu, has claimed 85 lives in the first three months of this year, up from the 25 deaths recorded throughout 2016.
State officials said 410 cases were reported since January this year. “Most of these were from Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad,” said Dr Pradip Awate, state surveillance officer. All patients are on anti-viral medications, he said.
“As a precaution, we have intensified screening and surveillance for all viral infections and are vaccinating high-risk groups, such as pregnant women and the elderly,” Dr Awate said.
Experts said the fluctuations in temperature could be one cause for the spurt in H1N1 deaths. “Viruses thrive in environments where there is a big gap between the minimum and maximum day temperatures,” said Awate.
Another reason more cases are being recorded now is because of poor herd immunity among the people, said a state official. The term refers to how immune a significant section of the population is. “After the H1N1 epidemic in 2015, when 906 deaths were reported, many people were vaccinated. This not only protected them from the virus, but also checked its spread,” the official said.
The effects of the vaccine could be wearing off, causing the increase in cases this year.
“Vaccinations do not work after six to seven months of taking them. The high risk groups ideally must take vaccinations against viral infections at least once a year,” said Dr Om Srivastava, a city-based infectious disease specialist.
Meanwhile doctors have advised against self-medication. “Symptoms of swine flu may overlap with other viral infections. People must visit a health facility for a correct diagnosis,” said Dr Srivastava, .