Pune,once again centre of swine flu battle

Pune,home to an H1N1 outbreak in 2009,is battling a fresh one with 232 found positive since January.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published: August 20, 2013 1:41 am

Pune,home to an H1N1 outbreak in 2009,is battling a fresh one with 232 found positive since January. The virus has killed 35 in the Pune municipal region this year,including some from rural areas on the outskirts treated in the city,but excluding 13 who died in Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Pune and its surrounding areas are seeing more cases simply because they are picked up early by a good screening and surveillance system,says Dr V M Katoch,director general of Indian Council of Medical Research.

From January till Sunday,the city had seen 1.8 lakh people screened,21,000 given Tamiflu and over 2,300 throat swabs sent for diagnostic tests. “Disease surveillance is challenging as cases can get missed. So far we have no particular model in the country and perhaps that (the surveillance metholdology is Pune) is a reason why Pune continues to see several cases of swine flu during the monsoon season,” Dr Mishra says.

Soon after the outbreak in Mexico in March 2009,the first case in India was found on May 13 at Hyderabad airport,followed by the first death in August,in Pune. The Pune Municipal Corporation’s surveillance department recorded 85 deaths that year and 77 the next,before the toll dropped in 2011 and then rose again. This follows a general trend seen in Maharashtra,which remains among the three states hit the hardest,along with Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Of those who have died in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad since January,most (28 of the first 46) were in the age group 31-50,an analysis has shown. Dr S T Pardeshi,acting chief medical officer of PMC,says most of the patients were from the outskirts who travelled to Pune for treatment.

H1N1’s virulence has not changed and there has been no major mutation,though several states have seen outbreaks. In March,Delhi was affected. Rajasthan and Nagpur have had a number of cases,Katoch says.

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