Silver lining: No mutation of H1N1, says study

Experts say Tamiflu still works, Reliefin sight, disease incidence set to go down in summer months.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published:February 17, 2015 3:45 am
h1n1, ncdc, swine flu research NIV authorities said throat and nasal swabs were being collected as part of a study. (Source: Express Archive)

The H1N1 (swine flu) virus has not mutated and patients are still responding to Tamiflu, a joint study by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reveals. Swine flu has taken 585 lives in the country in the first two months of the year.

Virologists said the same California strain of 2009 was responsible for the disease here as well. There have not been any relapse of swine flu cases and in a month’s time, with summer in cases are expected to come down.

Dr M S Chadda, Deputy Director of NIV, when contacted, said throat and nasal swabs were being collected as part of a study to understand the spurt in H1N1. The virus is isolated and studied after tissue culture. “We are sequencing the virus to check for any mutation. So far no change has been detected.”

In western countries, the predominant strain has been seasonal influenza A (H3N2) unlike in India where the California strain of 2009 is prevailing. The virus was isolated in laboratories in California and the one circulating in India is similar to the original 2009 virus, officials explained.

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NCDC officials pointed out that change in weather conditions could have been responsible for the unusual spike in H1N1 cases. The sudden rise could be due to climate change and while there were sporadic cases, two months ago high transmission rate of the virus had led to a spurt in H1N1 cases. So far, we have had no cases of swine flu relapse.

The number of swine flu cases in 2014 was 937 and death toll was 218. In 2013 there were 5,253 cases and the disease claimed 699 lives.

There were 5044 cases and 405 deaths in 2012.

This year, across the state 442 cases of swine flu (139 from Nagpur, 127 from Pune and 109 from Mumbai) were detected. A total of 16 persons are on ventilator support across the state while 179 patients are admitted to various hospitals.

Vulnerable adults

Maharashtra state (disease) surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate says that the virus has killed mostly adults in the age group 30-50 years. Twenty seven women and 31 men died of swine flu since January. Ten are in the age group 21-30 years while 15 deaths each are in the age group of 31 to 40 years and 41 to 50 years. Two deaths were registered in the age group of 11 to 20 years while one death each has been registered in the age group 61 to 70 years and 71 to 80 years, Awate said. There were 21 deaths in rural areas. In the state 40 people died of swine flu and associated diseases.