GUWAHATI, July 23 - With two deaths resulting from H1N1 virus, popularly known as swine flu, in the State this year, the Health department has geared up to prevent a possible spurt in the number of cases.
This year, altogether 134 cases have been tested positive for H1N1, and two of the infected patients died recently – both at private hospitals in the city.
Sources in the Health department said while this is the lean season, there are apprehensions that there could be a spurt in cases during the peak season later from November to March.
So far this year, 12,500 people have been infected with the influenza A (H1N1) virus in the country, of whom 600 have died. Maharashtra alone has registered 284 deaths, which by itself is much more than the total mortality figure of 265 in the country as a result of H1N1 in 2016.
In the first three months of 2017, the numbers of cases and of deaths were fairly high, at over 6,000 and 160 respectively.
Dr BC Bhagawati of the State Health department told The Assam Tribune the Government has planned out a vaccination drive. Initially, the vaccination will target the high-risk groups, especially the healthcare providers.
“The private sector has also been sensitized and we have assessed the preparedness of the hospitals,” he said.
He said the Sonapur-based Acute Febrile Illness Study Centre is conducting tests to find out the causes of the virus. The surveillance centre is being supported by the Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR), Manipal University, and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta).
“Most of the cases which have been detected are outdoor patients. Only six of the cases were admitted. Normally, the mortality rate of the virus is low, but in case of category III – when there is high fever, respiratory problem coupled with fall in blood pressure, sputum mixed with blood, bluish discoloration of nails – the patient needs immediate hospitalisation,” Dr Bhagawati said.
Since the 2009 pandemic, H1N1 has become a seasonal flu virus strain in India even during the peak of summer. In 2009, the mortality was quite high, but later it came down to below 1 per cent. The viral strain keeps mutating every year – the genetic components of the virus keeps changing.
This year there has been a sudden spurt of cases in South India.
According to experts, the situation no longer demands isolating H1N1-positive people as was done to contain the spread in 2009, when the virus was new to India and affected close to 50,000 people and killed more than 2,700.