H1N1 menace continues

Updated: Sep 19, 2011, 15:55 PM IST

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group

Maharashtra lost maximum number of people in the past two years to the dreaded H1N1 followed by Gujarat and Rajasthan. It lost 940 people to the virus.

However, during the last seven months this year, Punjab emerged as the worst-hit state with maximum number of deaths followed by Kerala and Karnataka. Punjab recorded 14 fresh deaths this year.

This means that while experts across the globe might have declared H1N1 as pandemic, in India the deadly virus continues to take its toll.

As per the recent Health Ministry data, the cumulative laboratory cases of H1N1 across India stood at 46,777 with 2,772 cases of deaths reported. In2009, the death toll stood at 956; the figure rose to 2,728 in 2010 and the latest figure stands at 2,772.

A detailed state-wise analysis further revealed that there has been a rise in number of deaths from 2009. The prevalence of the virus was much higher in the western part of our country than the eastern part.

The maximum rise in deaths was reported in 2010. However, after H1N1 was declared as pandemic, the number has shown a decline. Minimum aggregate number of deaths was reported in 2011. However, in few eastern and north–eastern states, no deaths had been reported so far.

Dr Pervez Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Max Hospital, said, “Overall numbers have come down. But there is also a fear that the death toll could be more as many cases might have gone unreported.” He did not specify areas in this regard.

A cautious Dr Rajeev Dhere, senior director at Serum Institute of India, said, “Out of 100 people, if only 25 people get vaccinated and rest of the 75 percent population remains unvaccinated, it leads to the rapid spread of the killer H1N1 infection. It is extremely important that each and every person should be immunized to get rid of this deadly virus.”

In 2009, Maharashtra recorded the maximum number of deaths at 265, followed by Rajasthan at 149 and Karnataka at 131 respectively. In 2010 the death toll in Maharashtra stood at 937. The current figure for Maharashtra stands at 940 meaning just three fresh deaths occurred this year.

In 2010, the death toll in Rajasthan was 296 while there no death has been reported this year.

In 2011, Punjab recorded the maximum rise in number of deaths. In 2009 the death toll was 33 and it rose to 47 in 2010. The current figure stands at 61 meaning it recorded 14 deaths so far this year. Similarly, in Kerala, the death toll in 2009 stood at 31 and rose to 121 in 2010. The 2011 figure stands at 129 so far.

Dhere further lamented, “Early diagnosis is an issue. People are careless and do not take preventive measures, so once the diagnosis gets delayed the risk doubles.”

Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said, “Doctors do not suspect H1N1 fast. People should be educated regarding the symptoms of this flu. Moreover, since it is a viral infection it cannot be controlled completely; however, steps can be taken to put a check on the spread of this infection.”

Few eastern and north-eastern states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Manipur have recorded approximately zero deaths right from the time of discovery of the killer disease. The death toll in Gujarat, however, in 2009 was 116 while the figure rose to 488 in 2010. During 2011 the state did not record any fresh H1N1 death.

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