Swine flu was deadly in 2009-2010 across three regions in the world including India with an average death rate of 55. Now, in 2015 the state health ministry data on swine flu shows an average 100 deaths per month but doctors say not to worry.
Health experts say the delay in detection and treatment that has caused so many deaths and it is not the virus. Out of the 1,731 deaths in the country so far, one fifth was in Maharashtra.
The data from the study done at the Haffkine Institute, Mumbai showed that secondary diseases and delayed diagnosis were the main reasons for swine flu to be widely prevalent. "This year, we have observed that 35% of those who died of swine flu did not have any secondary disease like diabetes and hypertension," said Dr Pradip Awate, epidemiologist.
Multi-factorial diseases on the sidelines like diabetes or hypertension was the reason for the remaining 65% swine flu deaths. "People with co-existing diseases have low immunity and have high level of infection," said Dr Awate.
"There will be a certain percentage of people who may not have any secondary disease but their body can have hyper active immune system reaction to the virus. This is a fatal condition. Otherwise, only the people with co-morbid factors and low immunity fall under the high-risk category," says Dr Abhay Chowdhary, director, Haffkine Institute.
The second factor is, in 2009-10, it mostly affected the young and adolescent. "From 2009, the virus is present in our society though the rate of transmission is very low. The transmission rate peaks mostly during rains and winter. In 2009, if it was the rain, in 2015, it is the winter," says Dr Chowdhary.
"Seeing the present infection, we do not think that there is any mutation," said Dr Chowdhary.
Early diagnosis is the key to prevent infection. "We have observed that almost all swine flu deaths were related to delayed diagnosis and treatment. If the disease is detected early, 99% will recover. There is nothing to panic about," Dr Chowdhary reassured.
Dr Om Shrivastav, director, department of infectious diseases, Jaslok hospital, Mumbai, said, "The high-risk category has to be extra-cautious. Since the immunity is low, they are more prone to getting infected. Early intervention can prevent complication and mortality."