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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Resurgent H1N1 virus strikes Mumbai harder in August

43 Tested Positive In A Week, Compared To 35 In All Of June

The dreaded H1N1 virus, which lay dormant for about a year, is back in the city. While there were only six positive cases and no deaths due to the disease in 2011, this year four died in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) till August 8. 

    There was also a "suspected" H1N1-related death in the city on Monday, when a 74-yearold woman from Malad died in Kasturba Hospital. While the woman was initially receiving treatment in a private nursing home, she was referred to Kasturba when she tested positive for H1N1. However, civic authorities claim her death was not a result of being affected by the virus. 
    "The clinical diagnosis said she died of many other problems but swine flu," said Mangala Gomare, head of epidemiology, from the BMC. The clinical diagnosis, as mentioned in the cause of death by the doctor treating the woman, was septic shock (medical condition as a result of severe infection and sepsis). "She already suffered from chronic renal failure, hypertension and diabetes. So apart from septic shock, acute renal failure and pneumonia were also mentioned in the cause of death. H1N1, however, was not included in these," said Gomare. 

    According to sources at Kasturba Hospital, the woman was already suffering from multiple organ failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome when she was brought to the hospital. Though the woman's death is not counted as an H1N1 death, the sheer numbers suffering from the disease speak volumes. 
    According to the civic officials, six more people tested positive on Wednesday, taking the total number of positive cases this year to 256. A 26-year
old man from Jogeshwari, a 45-year-old from Vikhroli, a 15-year-old girl from Powai, a 34-year-old man from Andheri, a 42-year-old woman and a 33-year-old man—both from Powai — tested positive for the disease. "All patients are stable. Apart from the man from Jogeshwari, who has been admitted to a private hospital, all the others are being given Tamiflu on an out-patient department basis," said Gomare. 
    While the number of cases are definitely higher compared to last year, there has also been an increase over the previous months. In June for example, 35 Mumbaikars tested positive for H1N1. In July, the number increased morethan four times with151 peopletesting positive. Worse, 43 people tested positive in the first week of August alone, more than all of June.

    Dr Abhay Chowdhary, of the Haffkine Institute in Parel, said the monsoon is the season for the influenza virus. "The virus gets activated during monsoon and winter months. Thus, it is no surprise that H1N1 cases are on an increase. H1N1 has now become like the other seasonal flu," he said.


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