Health

Over 50 people die due to swine flu in just one month

As many as 1,036 people have tested positive between January 1 and 17, 2019 in Rajasthan, while 40 have died, according to sources in the state’s health dept

 
By Banjot Kaur
Last Updated: Friday 18 January 2019
Representational Image. Credit: Getty Images

Even as the Rajasthan government is scrambling to prevent the spread of swine flu, it seems far from contained. As many as 1,036 people have tested positive between January 1 and 17, 2019, while 40 have died from the disease, according to sources in the state’s health department.

In fact, on just one day—January 17, 2019—as many as 65 people tested positive, while one died due to the disease. A total of 58 people have died due to the disease across the country in just January this year.

According to Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP), as many as 2,375 people contracted swine flu in 2018, while 221 people died the same year. In 2017, this figure stood at 3,619 people testing positive with 279 people dying due to the disease.

Down To Earth reached out to state epidemiologist Deepa Meena to understand why Rajasthan was registering such high number of cases. “The state sees high inflow of tourists and the temperature also plays a key role. Diagnostic facilities are available in all the government hospitals. Therefore, the detection rate is very high,” she says.

Meena refuses to assign any other scientific reason for the same. However, some research papers do point out that swine flu (also referred to as Influenza A or H1N1) cases may rise due to dry and cold conditions.

Rajasthan, as DTE reported earlier, was set to witness a peak in H1N1 flu cases as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had declared cold wave conditions, with temperatures dipping to 2°Celsius in the state. Besides, Rajasthan had received 93 per cent less rainfall than normal after the end of the southwest monsoon between October 1 and December 23, 2018.

According to a research paper titled, ‘An epidemiological study of recent outbreak of Influenza A H1N1 (Swine Flu) in Western Rajasthan region of India,’ published in 2013, the state has always witnessed a peak in the cases, starting from September till the month of January. The number of cases usually go down by the end of February.

This year, like the previous ones, Jaipur and Jodhpur divisions bore majority of the brunt.  While Jodhpur registered 260 cases and 16 deaths this month, Jaipur registered 401 cases with four deaths.

Jaipur Chief Medical Officer Narottam Sharma says, “It’s simply a ‘droplet infection’ and therefore it spreads very fast. So, places where population density is high, such as Jaipur, the number of cases are bound to be high.” 

He adds that besides one government medical college and hospital, all 33 community health centres and over 300 primary health centres now have an isolation ward with adequate stock of medicines.

Massive awareness campaigns and door-to-door tracking of the patients is also going on in full swing. Further, the state government has cancelled leaves to doctors due to the spurt in cases.

Meanwhile, the second highest number of cases were registered in Gujarat with 210 testing positive in January, 2019.

Status of cases between January 1-13, 2019

State

No of cases

Delhi

168 (0)

Gujarat

210 (0)

Haryana

128 (2)

Jammu and Kashmir

31 (5)

Kerala

54 (2)

Punjab

46 (6)

Telangana

109 (0)

Uttarakhand

2 (1)

Uttar Pradesh

34 (1)

Himachal Pradesh

8 (1)

Source: IDSP (figures in brackets indicate death)

The common symptoms of the disease include fever, cough, sore throat, breathlessness and bodyache. “Patients reach out to doctors very late despite having these symptoms. One should avoid self medication if one is harbouring such symptoms, especially those living in areas which are recording high number of cases,” says Sharma.

To keep the disease at bay, people living in affected areas should avoid crowded places and using contaminated tissues. The disease can spread through person to person contact, inhalation of contaminated droplets floating in the air, etc. Isolating infected patients and drinking plenty of fluids is an absolute must, adds Sharma.

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