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First India H1N1 death is girl in Pune

Class IX student had been admitted for suspected pneumonia,Union Health Ministry team reaches Pune....

Written by Express News Service | Pune/new Delhi |
August 4, 2009 9:34:39 am

The H1N1 virus or swine flu claimed its first life in India when a 14-year-old girl died of multiple organ failure today at the Jehangir Hospital in Pune. She was a Class IX student of St Anne’s Girls High School in the city.

Three doctors and a nurse who had respiratory problems after the girl’s death were being treated with Oseltamivir while 85 hospital contacts had been put on prophylaxis and 31 contacts,including 11 family contacts,were on chemoprophylaxis.

The death raised concerns because until now experts had been calling the virus in India a mild strain capable only of a self-limiting form of the disease.

According to an official release,the girl reported symptoms of sore throat,runny nose,headaches on July 21 and consulted a general practitioner. Since the symptoms improved,she attended school. But the fever returned and she was admitted to the Jehangir Hospital on July 27. Incidentally,the girl was admitted for treatment of suspected pneumonia.

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Her lung aspirate was sent to the National Institute of Virology on July 31 and she tested positive for swine flu. She had been put on Oseltamivir on July 30.

“She had vague and non-specific symptoms,” Dr Prasad Muglikar,Medical Superintendent,Jehangir Hospital told The Indian Express. “After admission,her condition deteriorated rapidly and she had to be put on a ventilator. As part of investigations,we sent samples to the NIV. They confirmed she was infected with the H1N1 virus,” he said,pointing out “she had already visited two private practitioners and was in a breathless state when she was admitted on July 27.”

Lynette Wilson,physical training teacher at St Anne’s,said: “She was not sickly at all. We knew from her parents that she was suffering from a lung infection. There was never any word of swine flu… It was only on Monday morning that doctors at Jehangir Hospital said she was sinking.”

Pune has been a matter of concern with 11 schools reporting swine flu outbreaks and 72 children out of 101 cases have contracted the disease due to “indigenous transmissions with no history of travel” — most cases in the rest of the country have been linked to travel abroad.

A two-member Health Ministry team led by Dr Jagdish Singh,a senior epidemiologist from the National Centre for Disease Control (previously National institute of Communicable Diseases),is already in Pune. “The team reached yesterday and they are doing a review,” said Dr Pradeep Avte,nodal officer for swine flu in Pune.

The number of those affected in Pune shot up when a team of students returned home after a trip to Indiana in the US. “One of the students who returned had contracted the disease there and he passed it on to a cousin who is a student of another school. The cousin in turn passed it on to 22 others. Cases have been spreading like this from one school to another,” Avte said.

The virus spread in Pune after students of different schools gathered for programme in Kothrud on the day of the solar eclipse. “On July 14,students from schools were invited for a discussion on the solar eclipse,” said Avte. Another possible factor,he said,could be tuition classes where students from different schools meet.

Panchgani in Satara district is another area of concern — all 23 cases in Panchgani involve children,four of whom are admitted in Pune hospitals.

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