THE SWINE flu (H1N1) virus has claimed at least 719 lives and infected over 6,056 people in the state this year, health authorities have said. As many as 18.87 lakh people have been screened with symptoms of the flu, said officials. According to Dr M S Diggikar, acting joint director of health, swine flu cases were occurring every alternate year. “While just 80 cases of H1N1 virus were reported last year, in 2015, over 8,500 cases and 905 deaths were reported,” he added.
Though H1N1 virus is now part of the seasonal influenza, experts insisted that vaccination was the most efficient way against it. Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer, said, population builds immunity against the infection, initially, at the time of transmission. But, after a few years, it wears off and people again become susceptible to the virus, he added.
Recently, officials said, several meetings were conducted to prepare a plan of action for the next few months, when the cases are expected to rise.
Diggikar said, “We have placed an order for 500 doses of the vaccine for all the high-risk districts.”
As per the health authorities, across the state, 74 swine flu-related deaths were reported in Nashik, 59 in Nagpur, 40 in Pimpri Chinchwad and 56 in Pune Rural areas, 35 in Satara, 32 in Thane, 20 in Mumbai, while remaining were reported in Kalyan, Vasai, among others.