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Swine flu scourge in Maharashtra

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Motorists in Patna wear face masks to protect against swine flu.

Swine flu continues to take a toll in Maharashtra as reports confirm more deaths. 

At the time of writing, the state has confirmed 2,135 cases of the disease with 202 people losing their lives. State capital Mumbai has borne the brunt of cases, with 632 reported. Pune, meanwhile, has reported the most deaths with fifty fatalities from 165 cases, representing a mortality rate of thirty percent. 

“Deaths in swine flu usually occur in high-risk patients with underlying medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, respiratory ailments and those who are immunocompromised,” said Dr Dr Sudhur Patsute, superintendent of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)-run Naidu Hospital. “If these high-risk people ignore the symptoms, they may land up in complications.” 

Of Pune’s high mortality rate, PMC assistant medical officer Dr Sanjeev Wavare said “these patients were referred to the hospitals here only when their conditions had worsened and they needed treatment on ventilator support. This is the reason why the case fatality rate is so high in Pune city.”

Swine flu has been a thorn in the side of health authorities since the start of the year, with more than 6,700 cases confirmed at the beginning of February. Maharashtra, to date, has recorded the second highest number of deaths this year after Rajasthan. However, in the last ten years, Maharashtra has recorded the most cases of the disease in India and the most fatalities with 33,284 cases and 3,637 deaths. 

The state is taking action in the face of the disease, screening 19.23 lakh people with flu-like symptoms while administering doses of oseltamivir – an antiviral medication – to almost 31,000 people with suspected infections. The Maharashtra model for tackling swine flu has been implemented in other states, including Rajasthan. 

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