INFLUENZA (92): INDIA (MADHYA PRADESH, MAHARASHSTRA), H1N1 FATALITIES
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Tue 25 Sep 2012
The high mortality rate among those afflicted by swine flu in Madhya Pradesh (MP), is actually alarming. Bhopal tops the death toll with 7 out of 28 patients testing positive for the H1N1 virus succumbing during treatment. Indore is not far behind, where 5 of 5 patients have died of the dreaded virus.
In fact, the [doctor] in charge of the swine flu [group] at the directorate of health, Dr K K Thassu, issued a circular some days ago asking people not to be afraid of swine flu, as it is no longer an epidemic but only an endemic disease which can be cured through medication. At that time, swine flu fears seemed to be receding as most of the suspected swine flu patients were testing negative, and those admitted for treatment were responding well at both government and private hospitals. But in the past few days, the situation has changed dramatically. On Saturday [22 Sep 2012], 9 out of 11 samples sent for confirmation of swine flu tested positive, giving a clear indication that the infection was on the rise and facilities for its treatment grossly inadequate.
Another remarkable aspect of the swine flu scare this season [2012-2013] is the fact that a number of doctors are also catching the infection. Two doctors of LBS Hospital in Bhopal tested positive for swine flu on Monday [24 Sep 2012]. In Jabalpur, 2 doctors including the dean of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College are being treated for swine flu. Another doctor in the city, who had tested positive for the disease, has since been discharged. But to their credit, doctors in Jabalpur have not allowed any swine flu patient to die, though the number of persons testing positive in the confirmation test is more or less the same as Bhopal and Indore, 26 to be precise. In the wake of a growing number of doctors catching the infection, the directorate of health has made it mandatory for all doctors and paramedical staff coming into direct contact with swine flu patients to get themselves vaccinated.
“We are calling it [a] focal outbreak, as the disease is prevalent more in specific pockets while not so in other areas. In MP the situation is worsening. Climate is also conducive for growth [spread] of H1N1 virus, but to say that we are ill-prepared wouldn’t be correct. Had it been so, there would have been more patients and more casualties,” Dr Thassu stated.
The chief medical and health officer (CMHO), Dr Pankaj Shukla, said the situation was not so bad in Bhopal as it appeared because patients from all over the state were coming here for treatment. “This season is conducive for spread of infectious diseases, but we are keeping a tight leash on the situation, and constant monitoring is being carried out,” he added.
In Maharashtra, the situation is worse. Over 1100 people have tested positive and 68 deaths have been reported due to swine flu, and there it has been declared an epidemic.
Commentary: The far higher proportionate rate of deaths reported in this ‘episode’ of H1N1 illness suggests that the virus remains a serious threat to life, even if the number of infected cases are fewer. Also, it is very important to note that healthcare workers including many doctors are getting this disease. It is very important that ALL health care professionals including doctors take this vaccine. In many US states this is now a compulsory vaccination, and we as doctors owe it to ourselves, our family members and our patients NOT to get infected with this deadly disease.