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Swine flu on the rise in India?

Swine flu cases could hit numbers as high as the 2016 and 2017 outbreaks, as disease cases surge across India. 

2018 saw a lull in disease cases as 14,992 people contracted swine flu and 1,103 died as a result. Previous years saw the disease wreak a far more devastating impact. 38,811 cases were reported in 2017, resulting in 2,270 deaths. The previous year saw 42,592 in 2016 and 2,992 deaths — the highest on record in India.

swine flu Copyright: designer491 / 123RF Stock PhotoThis year, cases have already exceeded figures from 2018.27,000 people have been diagnosed with swine flu at the time of writing while 1,167 have died from the disease according to the latest data from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The flu season in India typically extends from September to February, implying the worst is yet to come. With this in mind, it is feasible that this year’s figures exceed that of the current records from 2016.

High numbers of cases and fatalities have occurred throughout India, though have been concentrated in States such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, New Delhi and Gujarat. Vigilance is especially important for vulnerable populations. “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.” 

Those suffering symptoms such as fever, chills, coughing, headaches, a sore throat and body aches may have contracted swine flu. Three categories of patients have been classified by some state governments to determine the proper course of action.

State officials in Karnataka have made use of the following criteria. Category A patients may experience normal flu symptoms, though without any other conditions medication or hospitalisations is not deemed necessary at this stage. Category B patients are deemed to be at greater risk due to pre-existing conditions. This may be more common in the elderly or in individuals with noncommunicable conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

Category C is the most severe category of patient. 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.

Steps must be taken by both individuals and health institutions to curb the rate at which the disease spreads. Otherwise, a repeat of the prevalence rates witnessed across the 2016-17 period is inevitable.

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