Swine flu has taken over a hundred lives in Maharashtra in just four months and the humid heat is only aiding the virus to spread fast. Satish Pawar, the medical director, said the government is aware of the health crisis and state hospitals are providing free medical treatment to swine flu patients.
Pawar said that most of the cases are from Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and the adjoining areas. “There have been 101 swine flu deaths from the beginning of this year to April 10. The toll is going to rise as 30-odd patients are on ventilator support.”
Though swine flu is not a fatal disease, early detection and timely treatment are crucial. “The patients detected with swine flu should be treated within 48 hours or they could die,” Pawar added. Most of recent deaths are from Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad.
The problem is that swine flu can always be confused with seasonal fever. Even doctors can be confused. Most of the deaths were as a result of delay in treatment. Most of the victims went to private doctors and by the time they were detected with swine flu, it was just too late.
Dr Avinash Supe, Dean of King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, told Free Press Journal, “All doctors working in government hospitals are now doing a surveillance exercise in Mumbai city to check whether there are people infected with the virus. We are taking all the precautionary measures to keep the disease in check and should swine flu cases be found, we will shift them to hospital.” Dr Supe added, “Swine flu is spreading due to a sudden change in weather.”
The government is concurrently carrying out awareness programmes to educate people about the symptoms of swine flu and when to seek expert help. Recently, state health department held a meeting to take stock of the situation and come out with strategies to combat the flu and ensure that it does not spread.
In fact, in 2009, the first swine flu death in the state was reported from Pune. Since then, because of its large migrant population who come and go, the disease has become a headache for the administration.