February 5, 2016
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Swine Flu (cont.)

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What is the latest news about swine flu?

Apr. 6, 2015: Critics of India's response to the 2014-2015 swine flu outbreak suggest that besides a prolonged winter, a combination of inadequate testing facilities, inadequate Tamiflu availability, and lack of private hospitals' cooperation with local governments were reasons that swine flu was not effectively contained in India. The number of deaths recorded is 2,123 while the number of infected individuals is reported to be 34,656, according to the Health Ministry.

Mar. 30, 2015: As of Mar. 29, 2015, the Health Ministry in India has indicated that 2,044 individuals have died due to swine flu, and the number of infected people has reached 32,877. Fortunately, West Bengal in India has reported a decrease in the number of deaths and the number of people infected with the virus during the last one to two weeks. The decrease in the numbers of deaths and infections has prompted health officials in West Bengal to indicate that they expect swine flu to subside in this area of India. However, other areas have not reported the same decreases. Perhaps as the weather improves in India, more positive reports that indicate declining deaths and infection rates may occur across the country.

Mar. 23, 2015: India's health minister in Goa, Francis D'Souza, said, "Swine flu virus will die automatically when the mercury will rise in the state with the advent of summer." However, deaths from swine flu have continued and reached 1,911 fatalities, with 32,233 individuals reported infected so far. About 66% of all deaths have occurred in the age group of 30-60-year-olds. Sporadic reports suggest some hospitals have little or no stores of the antiviral drug Tamiflu available. Officials are encouraged by the weather change. Temperatures have reached 104 F (40 C) in some areas of India so the health officials predict that the fatalities and numbers of new infections will decrease with the advent of warmer weather.

Mar. 16, 2015: The swine flu (H1N1) outbreak continues in India. Last week, the death toll was 1,370 with approximately 25,000 individuals listed as infected; this week, the total of 1,731 deaths and about 30,000 people infected was reported. The highest death toll is reported to be in the state of Gujarat (387 deaths) with Rajasthan not far behind with 378 deaths. A study (Mar. 2015, in the publication Cell Host and Microbe) of H1N1 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests that the virus has mutated by antigenic drift (multiple small mutations) and become more dangerous than the previously circulating strain. However, the National Institute of Virology in India has not been able to confirm these findings and considers them "incorrect." Virologists suggest that more studies of the viruses in India be carried out.

Mar. 8, 2015: Unfortunately, there has been no major change in the swine flu (H1N1) outbreak in India. The number of infected individuals in India has reached over 25,000, and 1,370 deaths have been attributed to the disease. The Ansar Burney Trust (a human and civil rights organization in Pakistan) has advised Pakistanis not to travel to India and advised those who are already in India to avoid swine-flu-affected areas. The largest number of reported deaths (321) has occurred in an area of the state of Gujarat. The Trust is concerned that travelers may bring the swine flu back to Pakistan, where the Trust members speculate that Pakistani hospitals may not be able to treat an influx of swine flu patients. Health authorities suggest that an unusual weather condition (heavy rains and high humidity) is allowing the H1N1 virus to survive and be transmitted to uninfected individuals.

Mar. 2, 2015: Deaths continue from swine flu in India; currently, health officials have recorded 1,041 deaths and 19,972 infected individuals. This results in a morbidity (death) rate of about 5%. Health Minister J.P. Nadda said the 21 centers that run swine flu (H1N1) detection tests are not sufficient to handle the incoming samples, so the government is going to establish additional H1N1 testing centers. Officials urge the populace not to panic but to be aware of the symptoms of the disease. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has directed that all 614 diagnosed patients with H1N1 be treated at no cost to the patients and that additional medicine and treatment beds be provided.

Feb. 26, 2015: Swine flu in India continues to cause problems; over 15,000 individuals have tested positive for the virus and over 900 people have died. Officials in three cities (Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, and Rajkot) yesterday announced restrictions on public gatherings in an attempt to contain the swine flu. The order prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people together in public areas. The restrictions exempt funerals and private parties. Currently, many religious and cultural events have been canceled because of this order. Health officials encourage children going to private schools and any college-age individuals to get vaccinated against the virus as these individuals often encounter large numbers of people in group settings. However, doctors in these cities contend that there is an "alarming shortage" of the vaccine. Health officials still believe that when warmer temperatures occur in India, it is likely this ban on public gatherings will be lifted and the numbers of infected people will subside.

Feb. 16, 2015: Health authorities in India have reported that about 6,289 individuals have been diagnosed with swine flu (H1N1), with 485 deaths so far in 2015. In comparison, in 2014, there were only 937 individuals reported infected with H1N1 and 218 deaths in India. The health officials can give no reason for the rise in numbers of infections and deaths this year. Again, the officials are hoping for a drop in the numbers of new infections and deaths as the winter weather abates in India. The officials state that they have the medical infrastructure and medicine to treat any swine-flu-infected individual in India.

Feb. 9, 2015: According to India’s Health Ministry, total deaths from H1N1 influenza equaled 191 in January. This number of deaths is much higher than in January 2014. The Ministry predicts that because there is at least one more month of winter weather, additional numbers of infected individuals will impact public health and have a negative effect on the economy for the next few months. Severe infections progress rapidly (three to five days) and oseltamivir (Tamiflu) seem to "have no effect at all." Some severely infected patients die within two days, according to one official.

Feb. 2, 2015: The BBC reported that over the last six weeks, at least 75 people in India have died from swine flu (H1N1). Although deaths have not reached the levels seen in 2012 (405) or 2013 (692), there is concern that because India is having a colder-than-normal winter (coldest in the last 20 years), the number of deaths may increase before the flu season abates. In addition, Indian health officials are investigating if the H1N1 virus has developed a "minor mutation." However, they indicate H1N1-infected patients are responding to current medicines.

Jan. 26, 2015: In New Delhi, India, another 18 people have tested positive for H1N1 swine flu virus. This brings the total number of people diagnosed to 179, with three deaths. However, officials suggest that there is no need for alarm as they expect the number of infected people to rapidly decline as the warmer weather begins to occur. New Delhi hospitals (22 hospitals) claim there are enough medicines in stock to treat individuals hospitalized with swine flu (H1N1).

Jan. 20, 2015: The H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu virus, has begun to cause concern in India this year. Since Jan. 1, 2015, over 150 swine flu infections have been reported, along with seven deaths in India. In Dec. 2014, positive cases of swine flu were first reported. Telangana, a state in the southern region of India, has reported the most cases of H1N1 (over 120). Currently, 10 other states in India have reported H1N1 infections with a few deaths. Because India has such a dense population and since H1N1 can be spread through the air via droplets, the Indian Health Ministry has asked their state officials to ensure sanitation and hygiene in all public places and to bring about awareness to people about the symptoms of swine flu. The concern is that rising numbers of swine flu infections may be the beginning of another H1N1 epidemic, although the current strain may not be as deadly as the 2009 H1N1 strain.

Where can I find more information about swine flu (H1N1 and H3N2v)?

For additional information see the following:

"Seasonal Influenza (Flu)," CDC

"Pregnant Women & Influenza (Flu)," CDC

"Influenza A (H3N2) Variant Virus," CDC


United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Influenza (Flu)." Nov. 24, 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm>.

United States. Flu.gov. "H1N1." <http://www.flu.gov/about_the_flu/h1n1/>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/10/2015

Source: MedicineNet.com

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