State’s swine flu toll reaches 47

The state health department has registered 251 cases of H1N1 infections, or swine flu, across Gujarat this year that have claimed 47 lives.

While 107 infected patients are currently undergoing treatment, 97 have been discharged from various hospitals upon their recovery.

Meanwhile, the department has sent 25 expert medical teams to four cities and 22 talukas in seven affected districts to understand why the swine flu virus is spreading and to see how well-prepared the medical response mechanisms are, authorities said Monday.

An official said initial reports from some of the teams already suggested that many medical practitioners seemed to be unintentionally delaying the treatment because of a misconception that test results proving H1N1 infections needed to be first obtained even in case of category B patients, which broadly refers to those who have had unabated fever for more than three days, or are suffering from other illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension, or the very young, the elderly, or pregnant women.

"Treatment needs to be administered immediately for all category B patients. Test results need not be awaited," said Dinkar Raval, deputy director of the department's epidemiology division.

Raval added that an estimated 65 per cent of patients so far had past and recent records of morbidity (suffering from a long-standing serious illness), while about 10 per cent are pregnant women.

Most of the remaining one-fourth of total H1N1 patients are those suffering from a sudden onslaught of lung failure known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which may have been caused by the viral infection.

The medical teams are visiting the cities of Rajkot, Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar and close to two dozen talukas located in Rajkot, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Kutch and Jamnagar districts.

A full report is expected from these teams by the end of this week, health authorities said, adding that their findings could throw some light on why the virus has been spreading rapidly in these areas although the eastern tribal belt and southern Gujarat remain unaffected so far this year.

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