Swine flu deaths: Pune no longer in ‘panic’ mode

A dip in temperature has led to a spurt in swine flu cases in northern parts of the country but in Pune — where the first death from the virus was reported — and surrounding areas, virologists have marked a decrease in H1N1 cases over the years. The health authorities have stated that the virus has now become endemic.

This follows the general trend seen in the state. A state surveillance department analysis of figures of the last four years shows a rapid decline in H1N1 deaths in 2011. From 415 deaths in 2009-10, the figure had shot up to 525 in 2010-11 before coming down steeply to 12 in 2011-12 and then rising to 126 in 2012-13, state surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate said.

Similar has been the trend in areas under Pune Municipal Corporation and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.

Pune Municipal Corporation's surveillance department figures reveal 85 deaths in 2009-10, 77 in 2010-11, six in 2011-12 and 35 in 2011-12. In Pimpri Chinchwad, 21 deaths were registered in 2009 and 56 in 2010 before it declined dramatically to just one in 2011. There were 15 deaths in 2012.

One death has been reported in Pune, and three in Pimpri Chinchwad since January this year. Officials with the municipal health departments said that over the years the H1N1 deaths also include those of patients coming from outside the cities to hospitals here for treatment.

'Not in panic mode'

While NIV officials admit they are no longer in 'panic' mode, an aggressive surveillance since 2009 has helped diagnose each case. When contacted, NIV Director Dr D T Mourya and Deputy Director Dr M S Chadha told The Indian Express that the virus had become endemic.

"However, we have to continuously monitor our surveillance systems and be on constant alert, Chadha said. According to reports from 10 surveillance centres in the country, there has been a five-seven per cent positive rate of transmission of swine flu in the last three months. When contacted in New Delhi, Director of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr V M Katoch, said world over the the Capital region was showing peaks in influenza activity. The situation in the northern parts of the country is under control, he said.

High-risk patients

A total of 41 pregnant women succumbed to the H1N1 virus in 2009-10. The number rose to 96 in 2010-11, there was no death in 2011-12 and there were 17 till December 2012. Diabetes and hypertension are among co-morbid conditions that place people with these ailments at high risk.

While there were 37 persons with hypertension and 31 diabetics who succumbed to swine flu in 2009-10, there were 48 with hypertension and 41 with diabetes who died due to H1N1 virus in 2010-11. In 2011-12 there were two patients each with hypertension and diabetes who died of swine flu. Until December 2012 there were 12 persons with hypertension and 22 diabetics who died due to swine flu.

Age break-up of victims

Young patients in the age group 21- 40 formed a large chunk of those who died of swine flu since 2009. While 135 who succumbed to the virus in 2009-10 were in the age group of 21-30 years, 86 were in the age group 31-40. In 2010-11, the deaths climbed to 163 in the 21-30 age group and 109 in the 31-40 age group. The number climbed down to just three in 2011-12. Until December 2012 there were 27 persons in the age group of 21-30 and 22 in the age group of 31-40 who died of the virus.

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