Deaths from swine flu — influenza A (H1N1) pandemic 2009 virus — in India crossed 1,500 this week, with the virus infecting more than 27,000 people.
This year, 27,234 cases and 1,537 deaths have been reported from all 36 states and UTs except five, shows data from the Union ministry of health. The only ones untouched by swine flu with no cases or deaths are Arunachal, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura and Lakshwadeep.
Two states — Rajasthan and Gujarat — have reported the bulk of the cases and deaths, reporting more than 5,000 cases and 350 deaths till March 10.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), most seasonal influenza in the northern hemisphere is being caused by influenza A (H3N2) virus, which accounted for 87.5% influenza A cases.
Of the more than 26,000 blood samples tested by the WHO, the pandemic 2009 swine flu virus accounted for 12.5% cases.
Swine flu spreads through droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by touching surfaces contaminated by the droplets. You can protect yourself by staying away from infected persons, frequently washing hands with soap, and cleaning surfaces with disinfectant or warm water regularly.
Symptoms include high fever, extreme breathlessness, lethargy, pain in the chest, loss of appetite and nausea or vomiting.
Three pharma companies in India — Hetero, Natco and Strides Acrolab — are manufacturing oseltamivir, the drug used to treat swine flu.
Having the anti-viral prescription drug oseltamivir (better known by one of its brand names, Tamiflu) shortens the duration and severity of illness if the taken within 48 hours of the symptoms appearing. It also makes people less contagious and prevents infection. Oseltamivir also protects against other strains of influenza.
The Centre has dispatched 60,000 doses of Oseltamivir (75 mg and 45 mg) and 1,000 doses of the paediatric syrup, which is manufactured only by Hetero, to the affected states.
All health personnel treating people infected with swine flu are vaccinated against it and given personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.