“A total of 10 have succumbed to the disease this year, including four in Pune, three in Solapur, two in Aurangabad and one in Nashik. Also, as many as 44 people were infected of the dreaded disease in the aforementioned period,” officials from the state health department said.
With 27 cases and four deaths this year so far, Pune city continues to be an epicentre of swine flu in the state. Incidentally, the city had accounted for 29 cases and 10 deaths due to swine flu last year.
“The state had recorded 82 cases and 25 deaths throughout last year. Among them, 41 cases and nine deaths were recorded between January and February. Since the beginning of 2017, we have recorded 44 cases and 10 deaths ion the state. There is slight increase, but it corresponds with usual swine flu seasonal transmission pattern. There is nothing to worry about. Although people need to exercise caution,” Kanchan Jagtap, joint director, state health department, said.
Scientists from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) confirmed that there had been no change in the genetic make-up of the virus. “Barring point mutation, there is no change in the virus. Its virulence level continues to be the same. People who died of swine flu had other co-morbid conditions that precipitated their deaths,” said a scientist from NIV.
Infectious diseases experts said, “The erratic temperature has led to an increase in patients suffering from cold, cough and fever, bouts of sneezing and runny noses — all symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). That’s why there is a surge in H1N1 cases also.”
“A significant increase in swine flu cases among other influenza cases can be attributed to the huge difference in day and night temperatures over the last few days. Temperature fluctuations enable infections to enter the body easily as the body loses its ability to adapt readily to an environment that is constantly changing from being too hot to being too cold and vice versa. And those with weak immune system or with underlying medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension develop complications,” senior paediatrician Sharad Agarkhedkar, former vice-president of the state chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA), said.
Swine flu — just like any other flu — is a respiratory infection. It exploits a weakened immune system to attack major organs, especially lungs. When it gets into the lungs, it can lead to pneumonia that can be fatal. The flu can also cause secondary infections to the body — any of which can lead to failure of vital organs and death.
Experts say that people should continue to take precautions in terms of basic sanitation practices like frequent hand washing, good diet and healthy habits as the virus is still infecting people. People with co-morbid conditions should be more vigilant.