The swine flu menace threatens to cast an ugly pall over Pune as the deadly virus claimed two more lives on Friday taking the total death toll to four. The entire state of Maharasthra is worried about the H1N1 virus with suspected swine flu cases reported in Mumbai as well. Besides the four fatalities, there are 34 more people with swine flu who have been admitted to various city hospitals and at least five of them are in a critical condition and on ventilators according to Pradip Awate, head of Integrated Disease Surveillance in the State Surveillance Office, which monitors swine flu in Maharashtra.
In the past 11 months, the H1N1 virus has claimed 11 lives – one in Nashik in May 2011, followed by two in Kolhapur in September 2011 and four, including three women in Pune in March 2012. Following the sudden spurt in swine flu in the past two months, the entire state health machinery has been geared up to face any eventuality, he added. The extended winter, the fluctuating temperatures and declining immunity due to unhealthy lifestyles are some of the causes for the sudden spurt of swine flu cases.
The disease usually peaks during winter, hence authorities are hopeful that it will decline from early or mid-April onwards. The first death of swine flu in India occurred Aug 3, 2009, when the disease claimed Rhia Shaikh, a 14-year old schoolgirl. In the past four years, the districts of Pune, Satara, Nashik and Mumbai city have been among the worst hit by the swine flu virus, notching the maximum number of casualties.