Swine flu death toll touches five, at four-year high

Two residents succumbed to complications arising from H1N1 influenza this month, taking the death toll from the disease this year to five, the district health department confirmed on Wednesday.

According to officials, the two patients — a 49-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman — were suffering from underlying cardiovascular diseases and died due to bilateral pneumonia, which is an infection of both the lungs.

“With the two deaths confirmed by the National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi, the death toll this year has risen to five,” said Dr Jai Bhagwan Jatain, district malaria officer, Gurugram, adding that this year has seen the highest death toll due to the flu in at least the past four years.

More than 300 suspected cases of swine flu have been reported in the district this year. The number of confirmed cases has reached 147 this year, a three-year high, according to the health department officials.

In 2018, no positive case was reported in the district. This number was six in 2017 and nine in 2016. In 2017, three deaths due to the flu were confirmed. In 2016, the number of deaths was two.

A throat swab and culture test is performed to determine whether a patient is H1N1 positive. As per directions from the health department, both private and government hospitals are required to collect swab samples of patients and send them to the health department, which forwards them to a testing lab. A case of swine flu is only confirmed by the district health department upon confirmation from the lab, which takes about 24 to 48 hours for testing it.

However, according to doctors, the flu has subsided to a large extent due to the sudden rise in the day temperatures in the last week. The H1N1 virus doesn’t survive in warm temperatures and according to the India Meteorological Department data, the maximum temperature in the past four to five days was, on an average, 26 degrees Celsius.

“In the past one week, I have seen only one or two (suspected) cases of influenza which were not serious and didn’t require testing or admission,” said Dr Vineet Singh, a city-based pulmonologist. He added that patients with respiratory allergies due to the change in season and the rise in pollen in the air have increased.

First Published:
Mar 21, 2019 01:37 IST

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