68 pc spike in H1N1 cases in last fortnight of July

Mumbai: There has been an alarming 68 per cent rise in H1N1 cases in the second half of July. According to the public health department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), from July 1 to July 14 there were only 36 confirmed H1N1 cases in the city, but in the next two weeks, the number seems to have more than doubled, with 77 cases being recorded in this period.

Last year, there were zero cases reported during this month. Other diseases recorded in July include 21 cases of dengue, 62 cases of leptospirosis, 351 cases of malaria and 894 cases of gastroenteritis.

While 138 cases of hepatitis were recorded in the first half of July, there is no corresponding figure mentioned for the second half in the health department report.

Civic health officials said there was one death due to dengue and another due to leptospirosis, which was confirmed by the BMC death review committee. However, two persons who succumbed to H1N1 resided outside Mumbai, in Mumbra and Dombivli respectively.

According to data from the civic health department, around 3,029 H1N1 cases were reported in 2015, which dropped to just three in 2016, rising to 995 in 2017.

In 2018, 25 cases were recorded, with the first case coming up in September. However, this year, more than 300 cases have been recorded, of which 113 cases have been confirmed.

State health officials have attributed the increase in cases to the changing weather patterns over the past few years. “Usually between January to June, there are fewer cases of H1N1 flu, but this year, the count is higher,” observed an official.

According to the World Health Organisation, H7N9 infections result from direct or indirect contact with infected poultry and in rare cases, are known to infect humans, as opposed to H1N1, that commonly infects humans.

Dr Om Srivastava, infectious diseases expert, said there are also chances of other viral strains going undiagnosed.

“We are not actively testing for H3N2 or H7N9 strains, which are found in neighbouring countries. We need more evidence to suggest there is cyclic change, if at all, in H1N1 flu,” he said.

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