Spurt in swine flu deaths in Kerala, Health Min to send team

As many as 16 deaths, due to swine flu have been reported in Kerala in the last one month while over 200 people have been infected, Health Ministry officials said Tuesday.

Last Updated: Jun 15, 2010, 22:33 PM IST

New Delhi: As many as 16 deaths, including those of nine pregnant women, due to swine flu have been reported in Kerala in the last one month while over 200 people have been infected, Health Ministry officials said Tuesday.

A three-member team is being sent to the state to assess the situation.

"The number of cases of pandemic Influenza (H1N1) started showing an increasing trend with monsoon hitting Kerala. The outbreak is confined to Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) and Kollam districts of south Kerala," said a Health Ministry official here.

The official added that since May 15, there had been 201 laboratory confirmed cases and 16 deaths. Of these, 10 cases have been reported in last one week (June 8-14) alone.

All over India, 14 people died of swine flu in this week. Other than Kerala, three deaths were reported in Maharashtra and one in Karnataka. A total of 168 swine flu cases have been confirmed.

On request on the state government, a three member Central team, comprising Sunil Gupta and Pradeep Khasnobis of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and BV Tandale from the National Institute of Virology, will leave for Kerala Wednesday.

The swine flu cases in Kerala got highlighted when Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan`s driver was detected with the virus last week.

Health Ministry officials said that central government is taking all necessary steps to check the situation in the state.

"Required doses of Tamiflu and other medicines have been approved by the centre. Kerala will also get 34,000 doses of H1N1 vaccines," officials said.

The state has earlier received 45,000 doses of vaccine which was imported from Sanofi Pasteur. Of this, the rate of utilisation for health care workers has been about 92 per cent.

The Kerala government has also requested the Health Ministry to provide doses of the newly launched indigenous vaccine. Ministry officials said that Zydus Cadila, manufacturers of the vaccine, is in touch with Kerala government.

However, vaccination of pregnant women remains a problem as both vaccines from Cadila and Sanofi are not tested on them in India. Ministry officials however said that inactivated vaccines from Sanofi have been tested on pregnant women in Canada, US, Britain and some European countries.

"The matter has been referred to the high-powered committee for a decision," officials said.

Till June 9, at least 1,540 people have died in the country, while over 31,981 people have been affected with the virus that broke out last year in May. During winters, the flu saw a decline in the country with few cases surfacing.

IANS