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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spurt in H1N1 cases in city, 75% in 2 months

Mumbai: The H1N1 influenza virus that remained dormant for most part of 2011 and officially affected only six people in the city is back this year. The virus has already infected 107 people in the city since March with over 75% of the cases being reported in the last two months. 

    Initially, the spurt was brushed off as a sign of higher awareness in the population leading to more people getting tested. But, after 45 people tested positive for the influenza virus in a fortnight, the civic body was forced to admit that there was an increase in the incidence since the onset of the monsoon. This was also confirmed by head of BMC's epidemiology cell Dr Mangala Gomare. Figures too suggest that while there were seven cases in March, the incidence doubled to 15 in April. It dipped to five in May only to jump again to 35 in June and further to 45 in July. H1N1 viruses peak during monsoon, says NIV chief 
Mumbai: On Sunday, six more people, including two children, tested positive for H1N1. A five-year-old boy from Bandra and a oneyear-old toddler from Jogeshwari were the ones to test positive. The BMC's Dr Mangala Gomare said both have been put on antiviral drugs and are stable. Among the adults who tested positive, a 46-year-old man from Bandra (E) and another 56-year-old man from Borivli had to be admitted in private hospitals. The other two—a 70-yearold man from Khar (W) and a 28-year-old youth from Bandra— were treated on an OPD basis. 
    Interestingly, there is little understanding as to why the virus is back into action, when it had remained invisible during the last monsoon. 
    Globally, experts have declared that H1N1 would circulate much like other seasonal viruses. 
    State epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate told TOI that the increase in cases has been recorded across the state. "There has definitely been an increase in cases after the onset of 
rains. Most of the cases are being reported from Pune and Mumbai," he said. Since April this year, 351 people have tested positive in the state and so far it is the highest in the country. The virus has claimed 17 lives in the state so far, again highest in the country. The recent victim was a 13-year-old girl from CBD Belapur. 
    Director of National Institute of Virology (NIV) Dr A C Mishra explained that there was nothing surprising in the trend. "The typical behaviour of viruses is to peak during monsoon. And, this is true not only for Mumbai or Maharashtra but for the rest of the country," he said. Mishra said that the increase in positive cases could also be attributed to awareness in the population to some extent. 
    Figures with the BMC suggest that over 400 people have gone for testing in the months of June and July, while over 24,500 people have gone for screening since April. Consultant physician at Breach Candy Hospital Dr Hemant Thacker, however, cautioned that testing was not for everyone. "A lot of upper respiratory illnesses are also in circulation now. Since the clinical index is of suspicion and mortality is rather low, the decision to test should be left to physicians," he said. Thacker added that persistent cold and fever for more than 48 hours should not be ignored.


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