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Swine flu cases rise 14-fold in a yr

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    Posted: September 22 2017 at 11:58am
Swine flu cases rise 14-fold in a yr

While 265 persons succumbed to H1N1 last year, as many as four times the number of those who died this year

With over 10,000 cases of H1N1 infection reported in less than a month, Swine Flu has exploded in India this year.

According to the Union Health Ministry data, 25,864 cases of H1N1 were reported across the country till August 27 this year, a massive increase of over 14 times, in comparison to only 1,786 cases in 2016. While 265 persons succumbed to H1N1 last year, as many as four times the number of those who died this year.

In the state, with four more people succumbing on Tuesday, the death toll from the flu rose to 377 since January.

Officials also said that 133 new cases were reported in the state on Tuesday, even as 124 patients were discharged during the day. "Since last week, 1,316 people have been discharged from hospital," they said.

A state government release said that the daily cases have fallen from over 200 to below 140 as a result of house-to-house surveillance.

In Mumbai, Priyanka Mehta (name changed), 26, succumbed to the deadly virus at the BYL Nair Medical College last week. She was diagnosed with H1N1 on August 23, after blood reports from the Metropolis Laboratories came positive. She had been suffering from flu-like symptoms for four days before that. She was administered the Oseltamivir drug after a delay of eight hours and couldn't survive.

The highest number of cases (4,456) and deaths (467) were reported from Maharashtra, followed by Gujarat — 4,431 cases and 329 deaths. Rajasthan saw the third-largest number of deaths at 80 and recorded 847 cases. Kerala followed close on heels with 75 deaths and 1,384 cases.

Other affected states include Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, and Delhi.

"Patients with cough, cold, fever, body ache, running nose, and watery eyes should immediately be started on a course of Oseltamivir. The drug is best effective within 48 hours of setting in of the symptoms. The treatment should be started pre-emptively, without waiting for the test results to arrive," said Dr Om Shrivastava, Mumbai-based infectious diseases consultant.

The experts are also concerned because the H1N1 numbers generally spike during winters but this year, the rise is being seen in August itself.

"To see such startling figures in August clearly needs some introspection. Delay in diagnosis and treatment is fatal. While two-thirds of the patients who succumbed had other problems such as diabetes or malfunctioning thyroid, one-third had no related co-morbidities,"Dr Shrivastava said.

A Health Ministry official clarified that the virus naturally mutates over time. "Every few years, there is an antigenic shift, and a different virus emerges," he said. An antigenic shift involves mutations in virus that lead to a vaccine mismatch.

Meanwhile, doctors have suggested that people should take the trivalent influenza vaccine, which protects against Influenza Type A, B and H1N1
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