Rise in individuals affected with HINI Influenza virus is fueling panic about its spread in Mumbai. Since January this year, the city has witnessed 2,085 cases with 54 reported in the first five days of August.
Two new cases has been reported recently. The city's current death toll of 29 is steadily inching towards a 2010-like situation where 30 deaths were reported—the highest till date.
A two-and-a-half-year-old toddler has succumbed to this infection recently. The child had a congenital heart problem and was initially taken to one hospital and then was shifted to BYL Nair hospital in Mumbai.
"By the time he came here, he had already developed bilateral bronchopneumonia. He went into septic shock later," said a doctor. The child was also a known case of Kleinfelter Syndrome, which is a chromosomal disorder. The anti viral treatment was started only in the second hospital.
Specialists have been voicing concerns over primary physicians failing to recognize signs of viral infection, thereby losing crucial intervention time.
The second case who died was a 42-year-old woman, who did not have any underlying health condition that could have aggravated her state. She battled the infection for four days before succumbing to it. Even in her case, the antiviral was started only in the second hospital.
A report from the BMC's epidemiology department said that she developed pneumonitis due to the H1N1 infection. It progressed into an acute respiratory distress syndrome with multi-organ failure. "The trick is in catching patients early and starting the treatment," said Dr Khushrav Bhajan, Hinduja Hospital.
"Even after five years, unlike typical influenza viruses, H1N1 has more or less remained the same. We are treating many patients on an OPD basis and advising home quarantine for most", he added.
Pediatrician Dr Nitin Shah said, "if cold and fever in children do not resolve with symptomatic treatment within 48 hours, H1N1 must be suspected. Testing is not very important. It is crucial to read the symptoms of sore throat, fever, diarrhoea and start treatment immediately. Vaccination must be recommended for everyone."