New Delhi: As the swine flu virus sweeps through the country, it has left Maharashtra with the maximum number of cases and Gujarat with a disproportionate number of deaths. Government data from January 1 to August 6, 2017, accessed by News18, shows that Maharashtra has reported 3750 cases of the H1N1 virus, with 381 deaths.
Karnataka, with 2805 cases, and Tamil Nadu, with 2956 cases, aren’t far behind. Though they have managed their mortality much better, both registering only 15 deaths.
Gujarat, however, reported only 903 cases, far behind Telangana (1493 cases), Kerala (1317), but has seen 138 deaths in this period. This makes it the state with the second highest deaths after Maharashtra, raising serious concerns over the state’s ability to contain the spread and reach the infected in time.
In comparison, Delhi has 928 cases of swine flu but only four deaths.
The numbers show that Gujarat and Maharashtra are repeating their performance from the 2015 outbreak. Maharashtra had the highest number of cases at 8583 and 905 deaths. Gujarat was second with 7180 cases and 517 deaths. Rajasthan, in 2015, had the third highest cases and deaths, 6858 and 472 respectively. This year, it has so far seen 459 cases but 61 deaths, which again raises questions on how much access to a health facility do people have.
Delhi, in 2015, had 4307 cases, the fourth highest number, but only 12 deaths.
Government officials say these numbers are because of the nature of the influenza virus, which undergoes an antigenic shift. This is a common phenomenon by which the virus genes change over time as it replicates, creating virus strains that are similar but not identical.
“When a pandemic strain enters a country, it takes a few years to settle,” said Dr. AC Dhariwal, director, National Disease Control Programme. This is why the cases went up in 2015 and down in 2016, he said. The northern states see the infection spread around and after the rains and the southern states during the winter months.