Novel H1N1 influenza pandemic [swine flu pandemic] in India is not news anymore. There is no breaking news on TV channels about deaths caused by negligence of doctors. Health Minister is invisible. Newspapers have stopped counting the deaths. Many in India believe that the 'swine flu' is not killing anymore because they are not reading/viewing such news now. But what is the actual situation?
There have been a total number of 11354 confirmed cases of novel H1N1 flu infections in India till October 7th 2009.Of, which 366 persons have died. This is the officially confirmed figure and not an estimate. Many believe that a large number of infections and death may not have been included in the official data. Official statistics show that there have been 147 deaths in Maharashtra and 101 deaths in Karnataka.
The Indian Health authorities who studied the first 82 deaths that occurred till Aug 31 said that maximum deaths occurred in the adult age group.
Among the dead were 43 men and 39 women, including three pregnant women.
Of the first 82 deaths, 61 were in urban areas and 19 in rural areas. There were five deaths in the age group of 0-5 years and three from 6-15 age group. Thirteen victims were from the age group of 16 to 25 years, while 18 people died in the age group of 26-35 years.24 people died in the age group of 36-45, as compared to 18 deaths in the age group of 46-65. Only one person died in the above 65-year category.
Statistics from other countries also show similar age distribution.
Worldwide Brazil [1164 deaths], USA [814 deaths] and Argentina [539 deaths] lead India [366 deaths] in death toll.
It is expected that by the end of this winter India will overtake all other countries in the death toll.
Yet another feather in India's cap?
H1N1 flu vaccine
Vaccine for novel H1N1 flu is available in few countries now.
The groups recommended by CDC in USA to receive the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine include:
1.Pregnant women because they are at higher risk of complications and can potentially provide protection to infants who cannot be vaccinated;
2.Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age because younger infants are at higher risk of influenza-related complications and cannot be vaccinated. Vaccination of those in close contact with infants younger than 6 months old might help protect infants by “cocooning” them from the virus;
3.Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel because infections among healthcare workers have been reported and this can be a potential source of infection for vulnerable patients. Also, increased absenteeism in this population could reduce healthcare system capacity;
4.All people from 6 months through 24 years of age
Children from 6 months through 18 years of age because cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza have been seen in children who are in close contact with each other in school and day care settings, which increases the likelihood of disease spread, and
Young adults 19 through 24 years of age because many cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza have been seen in these healthy young adults and they often live, work, and study in close proximity, and they are a frequently mobile population; and,
5.Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza
2 shots are recommended for those below 10 years and one shot for others.