Mumbai: Swine flu claims 5 more lives in state

Mumbai: The onslaught of swine flu in Maharashtra continues. Over the last 10 days, five more people have succumbed to the disease in the state, taking the death toll to 202 so far, this year.

As many as 2,135 people have tested positive for the ailment. In the last decade, with 33,284, Maharashtra recorded most number of H1N1 cases in India, and the highest number of fatalities at 3,637.

Doctors said deaths in swine flu usually occur in high-risk patients with other underlying medical conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, respiratory ailments and those who are immune-compromised.

“There has been a sudden spurt in cases of viral infections, mainly of the upper respiratory tract. Young adults on the move are the worst-affected. The season can spur transmission of viruses, including swine flu virus,” said a health official.

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.

Experts say the diminishing immunity of the public and the co-circulation of other seasonal viruses, along with swine flu, are among the contributing factors. The wide fluctuation in day and night temperatures currently is providing a fitting atmosphere for the virus to spread.

“Minute changes in the temperature affect the transmission dynamics of a virus. When the temperature is low, the virus remains suspended in air and this leads to a rise in swine flu cases,” said a senior health official.

The state is taking action in the face of the disease, screening 19.23 lakh people with swine flu-like symptoms while administering doses of oseltamivir – an antiviral medication – to almost 31,000 people with suspected infection.

The Maharashtra model for tackling swine flu has been implemented in other states, including Rajasthan.

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