A total of 3,500 persons have been diagnosed with swine flu so far this year.
Mumbai: There has been a steep hike in the number of deaths caused by the H1N1 virus (swine flu) in the state in comparison to last year. Since January 2017 till August 7, there have been 384 deaths in the state due to swine flu, though only 25 deaths were reported in 2016. Experts have said the huge toll could be because of a mutation of the virus that is making it flourish in the current environmental conditions.
A total of 3,500 persons have been diagnosed with swine flu so far this year, while 22 people are on ventilator support in hospitals across the state. The state health department said that the highest number of deaths has been recorded in Nashik, followed by Pune. Mumbai is third in the list along with Aurangabad, followed by Thane, it said.
Dr Om Shrivastava, director of department of infectious diseases at Jaslok Hospital, said, “The H1N1 virus thrives in air. A person suffering from any kind of influenza should avoid travelling in public as that would lead to the transmission and thriving of virus.”
“The virus is mostly affecting people in the high risk group, such as pregnant women, the elderly, HIV-infected people and small children. If the fatalities are affecting those with better immune system, then it is a possibility that the virus is different. A different plan of action is needed to tackle the spread,” he said.
On the changing pattern of the virus and its spread, Dr Pradeep Awate, head of the state epidemiology department, said, “The behaviour of the virus is cannot be predicted. The only solution is awareness about the virus, and people should stop taking self medication. They should rush to doctors following signs of flu and it should not be neglected.”
A team of experts from the National Communicable Disease Centre (NCDC) from Delhi visited Mumbai, Thane and Pune in the last week of June. The team confirmed that the patterns were changing and recommended the formation of a committee to probe all swine flu deaths.