THE state surveillance department has found the “severity” of swine flu (H1N1 virus) lesser this year as compared to 2009-10 and 2010-11. “Of the 33 H1N1 death cases in the state this year, at least 75 per cent had co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and so on,” said state surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate.
From April-August, 629 cases of swine flu were reported in the state, with 33 deaths. In Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad, there have been 186 cases with nine deaths and around 70 cases with six deaths in the same time period. Swine flue deaths have also been registered in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Nashik, Satara, Kolhapur and Sindhudurg.
“The severity is less as doctors are familiar with the mode of treatment,” said Dr Ambarish Shahade, former president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) city unit.
“An analysis of the deaths shows that comparatively the mortality rate is less as 33 deaths have been registered while more than 600 persons have been infected,” said Awate. The age group is between 22 and 50 years with only one child below 10 years succumbing to the virus.
The child, however, was suffering from Down’s Syndrome while around 75 per cent of those who died had co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac ailments while some were immuno-compromised and had HIV.
From April 2011-February 2012, there were 31 cases and three deaths. The spurt in the H1N1 virus in March this year saw as many as 285 cases and nine deaths and increased the tally to a total of 360 cases and 12 deaths, Awate said. “This season, however, there are fewer complications. For instance, we have not found a single case so far who had blood in his/her cough,” Awate added.
National Institute of Virology director Dr A C Mishra too affirmed that H1N1 virus was part of the seasonal influenza and co-morbidity was always one of the high-risk factors for patients who succumbed to the virus.
Private practitioners in the city feel that the awareness created in the past two years about the H1N1 virus and the herd immunity that has developed has seen a reduction of prevalence of the virus this year.
“Swine flu is part of seasonal flu,” agreed Sharad Agarkhedkar, paediatrician and former president of the IMA’s Pune unit. He added the Indian Academy of Paediatrics has now recommended that the influenza vaccine should be