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SASTM Newsflash - Influenza: India (H1N1) Increased incidence


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Amid a rise in seasonal diseases in the city, doctors here claim that the most worrying trend is the increase in H1N1 (swine flu) cases. The virus seems to have returned to haunt the capital after a lull of a few years.


According to central government figures, Delhi has recorded 1507 cases (as of 26 Jul 2013) and 16 deaths. The disease had last created a panic-like situation in Delhi in 2009-10. Talking about the preparations, Delhi Health Minister A. K. Walia said: "We are concerned about the situation and are putting in place some measures to ensure that the rise is controlled. All city hospitals have been asked to follow the H1N1 protocol, including ensuring isolation wards with dedicated staff for patients coming in with the flu. The state government is also looking at ensuring enough supply and availability of Tamiflu at all centres."


Swine flu [H1N1] was at its most virulent form in the country when it spread in 2009. Till May 2010, 1035 people had died of the disease in India, and more than 10 000 were infected. "Symptoms of H1N1 influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Many people with swine flu have had diarrhoea and vomiting.

But these symptoms can also be caused by many other conditions. The accuracy of tests for detecting swine flu depends on the quality of the manufacturer's test, the sample collection method, and how much virus a person is shedding at the time of testing," said Delhi Medical Association member Anil Bansal. The precautions for keeping swine flu at bay include washing hands frequently to avoid infection and staying away from crowded places and those who have tested positive for the virus.


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City-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) has advised people to stay alert and take precautionary measures to ward off swine flu as the H1N1 infection rate has gone up considerably this month [August 2013]. The infection rate of the H1N1 virus has touched 13 percent in July 2013 as against 1.1 percent in June 2013. This means, of the total suspected H1N1 patients, 13 percent have tested positive, scientists from NIV said here on Tuesday [30 Jul 2013]. 4 people have died of swine flu in Pune city in the last 7 days, and 7 more infected with the virus are currently critical and are on ventilator support at different hospitals.


"There has been a significant rise in the number of people testing positive for H1N1 influenza this month [July 2013] compared to last month [June 2013], with considerable rise in the number of throat swabs being sent to NIV for testing. Precaution is the key to protection from infection," said senior scientist Mandeep Chadha, deputy director of NIV. The NIV had received around 100 throat swab samples from across the state [Maharashtra] in June 2013. "The number of throat swabs tested at the NIV has already touched 150 in July 2013," Chadha said. There has been a perceptible rise in the H1N1 infection rate this year [2013] in the June to July period, as against the same period last year. "In 2012, the infection rate of swine flu was 4 percent in June and 8 percent in July [2012]. This year [2013], there was a drop in June but considerable rise in July 2013," Chadha said.


Health officials said that the rise in swine flu cases and deaths this year [2013] can be attributed to favourable climatic conditions for the spread of the virus, dipping immunity among people, and delays in treatment. The city has reported 205 positive cases and 27 deaths between January and July this year [2013] as against 384 cases and 13 deaths during the same period last year, and 13 cases and one death during the same period in 2011. "The city reported only 2 swine flu cases and no deaths in June 2013. However, the number of cases surged in July 2013 when the city recorded 21 positive cases till date," said S T Pardeshi, medical officer of health (MoH), Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).


The H1N1 virus's frequency of causing infection is being closely monitored by the scientists at NIV. "Barring minor point mutations, there has been no significant mutation in the genetic make-up of the virus so far," Chadha said. "It is imperative to continue monitoring the genetic make-up of the H1N1 viruses to understand their adaptability and evolutionary dynamics in the country," Chadha said.


As per the Union Health Ministry's report, the country has reported

4868 positive cases between 1 Jan and 26 Jul [2013] this year. Of these, 610 people have died. 196 deaths were recorded in Gujarat, the highest number in the country, followed by Rajasthan, which recorded

163 deaths. Maharashtra follows with 413 swine flu cases and 90 deaths.





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The content and opinions are neither pre-screened nor endorsed by the SASTM. The content should neither be interpreted nor quoted as inherently accurate or authoritative.

The information provided in SASTM Newsflashes is collected from various news sources, health agencies and government agencies. Although the information is believed to be accurate, any express or implied warranty as to its suitability for any purpose is categorically disclaimed. In particular, this information should not be construed to serve as medical advice for any individual. The health information provided is general in nature, and may not be appropriate for all persons. Medical advice may vary because of individual differences in such factors as health risks, current medical conditions and treatment, allergies, pregnancy and breast feeding, etc. In addition, global health risks are constantly evolving and changing. International travelers should consult a qualified physician for medical advice prior to departure.

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