08 September 2012
The state reported its sixth swine flu casualty this month after a 40–year–old mentally–challenged woman from Kolhapur died on Wednesday. The other deaths have been reported from Sangli (4), Satara and Kolhapur.
So far, an estimated 1,001 people have died of H1N1 influenza in Maharashtra after the new strain of flu claimed the country’s first victim, 14–year–old Reida Shaikh, in Pune on August 3, 2009. During this period, the virus infected a total of 12,522 people across the state," health officials said.
The Pune–based National Institute of Virology had earlier stated that the virus has become endemic and is now like any other circulating seasonal virus.
"Influenza epidemics in colder countries are usually seen in winter. In tropical countries like India, epidemics can be seen throughout the year," said state epidemiologist Pradip Awate. "In fact, there is a propensity towards more epidemics during the monsoon. This is usually due to a combination of high humidity, relatively cool temperatures and indoor crowding of people."
Around 95% cases tend to improve without the help of medicine, he said. "Though the H1N1 influenza can strike anyone, those with compromised immunity are more susceptible to fatalities," Awate said.
The spread of the swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. The influenza spreads from person to person through the respiratory route. If a person already infected with the virus coughs, sneezes or even talks or sings loudly, he or she generates aerosols or droplets of saliva with virus particles in it.
So far, it has been observed that certain medical conditions increase the risk of severe and fatal illness. These include obesity, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and immunosuppression, liver disorders, pregnancy, hypertension and neurological disorders.
In 2010, the WHO warned of sporadic outbreaks of the disease due to changes in the season. It said this would happen for a couple of years till the virus dies out.