India is currently experiencing significant numbers of swine flu cases across multiple states and union territories. At the time of writing there have been 542 deaths due to swine flu and 6,803 infection cases.
The numbers so far fall much short of the figures last year. 38,811 swine flu cases were recorded in 2017. However, there are still two months to go until the end of the year.
Considering the rapid increase in swine flu cases across October, there still lies a potential that disease cases will increase considerably if containment procedures are not put into place.
Currently, Maharashtra is bearing the brunt of the outbreak. Of the total number of cases so far, Maharashtra has recorded 302 deaths and a total of 2,375 disease cases in the state. Rajasthan and Gujarat follow closely behind. Rajasthan has currently had 1,912 overall cases with 191 associated deaths. Gujarat has had 1,646 cases with only 51 deaths. Smaller outbreaks have been occurring in union territories such as Puducherry, with 39 reported cases at the current time.
State health departments have been issuing alerts requiring hospitals to prepare isolation wards in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. Guidelines have also been issued to individuals who suspect they may have the virus dividing them into categories depending on circumstance and symptoms.
State officials in Karnataka distinguished three categories of patients as a guideline to treatment. Category A and B patients are deemed to have mild to moderate symptoms respectively. Medication or hospitalisations is not deemed necessary at this stage though category B patients are deemed to be at greater risk due to pre-existing conditions.
Category C is the most severe. The symptoms involved may include breathlessness, chest pain, drowsiness, fall in blood pressure, sputum mixed with blood or bluish discolouration of nails. These patients are in need of hospitalisation.
In all cases patients are asked to take measures such as staying at home from work or school to prevent the spread of the disease.
Some believe that the recent floods in Kerala may have played a role in distributing the outbreak across a number of states. “We have not confirmed yet but many of the affected have travelled to Kerala recently for relief work after the floods. Other reason for the cases might be the recent heavy rains, and poor hygiene in these areas,” said Dr GA Srinivasa, district health officer (Bengaluru Urban).
Containment of the outbreak is now of the utmost importance to avoid a larger scale outbreak similar to that seen in 2015. Comparatively, disease numbers are still low, and may be kept that way with a swift enough response.