Like every year, the deadly H1N1 virus is spreading its wings again threatening hundreds of lives across the country. The air-borne virus is easily contracted by humans and can spread by being in close proximity with the one who is already infected. In March 2015, the country confirmed a nationwide swine flu outbreak with a whopping 33,000 cases all across and over 2000 deaths. Gujarat and Rajasthan were worst hit, reporting close to 6500 cases and about 500 deaths followed by Delhi which reported about 4000 cases but only 12 deaths as of March 2015.
Two years hence the virus is still doing the rounds affecting people across the nation. According to a PTI report, Rajasthan continues to report fresh cases of swine flu even in this sweltering heat. “We do not exactly know the reason why the virus is still active in the hot climate. Last week, we have sent samples for laboratory testing to NIV, Pune. We will be able to comment once the report comes,” Dr Aditya Atreya, incharge, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) told PTI. So far Rajasthan has reported 228 cases of swine flu this year with 114 patients coming from the state capital Jaipur alone.
Another 101 have been affected with the virus in West Bengal since the beginning of the year. “There have been 101 cases of Swine Flu infection in West Bengal since January. Out of these, seven were from other states while the rest 94 were from West Bengal,” state Health Services Director Biswaranjan Satpathy told PTI. Maharashtra, on the other hand, has already witnessed 185 swine flu deaths this year.
“H1N1 infection has been the cause of death for 185 people in Maharashtra from January 1 till May 8. There has been a lot of fluctuation in the temperature, which is accelerating the infection,” Joint Director of Family Welfare Mukund Diggikar told PTI.
Health authorities in Telangana have a different story to tell. Experts suspect H1N1 virus to have undergone a mutation which could be a reason why swine flu cases are being reported even in peak summer months when the virus usually stays inactive. However, the Director of the state-run Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, Mr. K Manohar confirmed that swine flu cases can occur in summer also, it is not exactly an unusual phenomenon.
“Most probably due to the high replication rate there could be an antigenic drift which could have milder mutations,” Director K Manohar told PTI. According to a swine flu bulletin issued by Telangana government on April 12, as many as 9,382 samples were tested for swine flu from August 1, 2015 to April 11 this year in the state and 1,343 were found to be positive. The state has reported 22 deaths so far.