New Delhi: With states witnessing an unprecedented spurt in swine flu cases and nearly 1,100 succumbing to the H1N1 virus attack so far this year, the country seems to be in the grip of a major outbreak. Maharashtra remains the worst affected with a death toll of 488, followed by Gujarat which has recorded 343 fatalities.
According to health ministry data, a total of 22,186 cases have been reported across the country, raising a serious health alarm across states even as experts attributed a “change in virus’s strain” to be behind the increasing incidence and deaths this year. The National Centre for Disease Control and AIIMS in Delhi and Pune’s National Institute of Virology have found that the H1N1 strain in circulation this year is different from the one in circulation in the previous years.
This year, Maharashtra has contributed to more than 45% of all H1N1 casualties and one-fourth of the confirmed cases since January. From 25 H1N1 deaths recorded in the whole of 2016, fatalities in the state have jumped nearly 75-fold this year.
Most deaths were in the working age-group of 25-50 years. “It simply emphasises the importance of self-isolation when suffering from an air-borne disease like influenza,” said said Dr Satish Pawar, head of the Maharashtra’s directorate of health services.
Gujarat too is reeling under one of the worst outbreaks of the flu recording 4,741 cases, with a mortality rate of 7.23%. An alarming 152 deaths in the past fortnight alone triggered a panic even as government declared that the deaths were due to a “seasonal flu”.
Tamil Nadu recorded around 3,000 H1N1 cases and 15 deaths since January. .
In 2016, the number of swine flu cases in Telangana was 173, while the number, as on August 28, had already reached 1,704. In 2015, the number of cases registered was 3,193.
Uttar Pradesh is experiencing the direst H1N1 onslaught since 2009, according to state health department data. A total of 2,798 H1N1 cases have been reported in UP till now, against, 871 in 2009. So far, 64 deaths have been registered, against 17 in 2009.
At least 341 swine flu cases have been reported from different parts of Odisha, with 33 fatalities recorded so far. In Goa, more than 190 persons contracted swine flu of which 19 died.