Swine flu: Tamil Nadu records 3,000 cases of H1N1 virus, the highest in country; know who all are at risk


    New Delhi: Latest data showed that as many as 632 people have died of swine flu so far in 2017, a viral illness that created a pandemic in 2009.

    Till July 16, 2017, H1N1 virus affected 13,188 people and caused 632 deaths across the country as against 1,786 infections and 265 deaths in the whole of last year.

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    The southern state of Tamil Nadu recorded close to 3,000 cases of H1N1 influenza virus since January 2017 – the highest in the country.

    Maharashtra, with 300 deaths out of the  2,738 cases reported, is the worst hit in terms of mortality. The state of Gujarat, which recorded 75 deaths out of 289 infections, is the second-worst affected, followed by Kerala (63 deaths out of 1,127 reported cases) and Rajasthan (59 out of 407 succumbed to H1N1 complications. Telangana and Tamil Nadu registered 17 and 15 deaths respectively.

    In Delhi, as on July 9, official figures state 241 people have tested positive for swine flu and four have died. However, doctors said the number of deaths could be higher.

    Union Health Minister JP Nadda said in a written reply last week that the central government has been closely monitoring the seasonal influenza outbreak situation and was in regular touch on the issue.

    To ensure wider availability and accessibility of Oseltamivir, the drug for treatment of influenza, has been put in schedule H1 on June 22, which means they can be sold by all licensed chemists against prescription. Earlier, they belonged to Schedule X category, wherein only certain selected pharmacies were authorised to stock and sell the medicine.

    A central rapid response team was deployed in Maharashtra on June 27 to investigate the rising trend of influenza in the state and to provide required assistance which is resulting in reduced mortality currently.

    Central teams have also been deployed to assist states like Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana where large laboratory confirmed cases have been reported, Mr Nadda said in his reply.

    In 2016, the country recorded 265 swine flu deaths, whereas in 2015 a total of 42,592 cases and 2,990 deaths were reported.

    Swine flu – What is it? Know the symptoms

    Swine flu, also known as H1N1 virus, is a viral illness that causes serious health problems. Symptoms include – fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny mose, body aches, headache, chills, etc.

    How is H1N1 virus spread?

    The disease initially spread through pigs, but now it transmits from humans to humans through saliva and mucus particles – sneezing, coughing, touching a germ-covered surface and then touching thier nose or eyes.

    Who’s most at risk?

    Anyone can get swine flu, but there some people who are more likely to be severely affected by swine flu. They are:

    • Children under five years old
    • Pregnant women
    • People 65 or older
    • Young adults and children under age 19 who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
    • Children and adults with certain medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease (asthma, COPD, emphysema), diabetes or those with weakened immune systems.

    In addition to that, swine farmers and veterinarians also have high risk of swine flu because of their exposure to pigs.

    Preventing swine flu

    The best way to prevent swine flu is to get a yearly flu vaccination. But apart from a flu shot, you can take a number of healthy measures, such as washing hands thoroughly and frequently, avoiding large crowds when flu season is on, to get rid of swine flu.

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