Situation in India – August 16, 2010

In the past week, at least 83 people have died of pandemic H1N1 virus infection in India (NetIndian, August 16, 2010). The deaths have occurred throughout India. The largest number of deaths occurred in Maharashtra (51). Over 1,000 new infections have been reported in the last week. Many of the deaths have occurred in pregnant women and middle-aged people. Health care workers are also becoming infected (expressbuzz, August 11, 2010).

A family cluster of deaths has occurred in Orissa. A father and his daughter both died of the disease recently (indiaserver.com, August 13, 2010). A mother and her daughter died of pandemic H1N1 virus in Karnatka (Deccan Herald, August 13, 2010). Clusters of death are always of concern because they may indicate that a more lethal viral strain has evolved. Reports of multiple family clusters of death is new and requires prompt investigation. As always, complete sequences of the viruses causing these clusters of death should be obtained.

Public health measures vary from region to region in India. In Goa, tourists are being warned of the dangers posed by swine flu in the region (RxPG News, August 13, 2010). Public gatherings are being discouraged. Vaccine and Tamiflu appear to be in short supply in some areas (TopNews, August 14, 2010). There is a rush to obtain N95 respirators (Times of India, August 12, 2010).

Despite Margaret Chan’s assertion that the pandemic is over, the situation continues to worsen in India. We should also consider the possibility that neighboring countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China have similar outbreaks but which are unreported. It is unlikely that the virus has decided to remain active only within India’s borders. India has a strong democracy with a vibrant, free press. This likely explains why there are reports of large numbers of flu cases and deaths in India, but silence from most of its neighbors.

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One thought on “Situation in India – August 16, 2010

  1. Certainly Pakistan will give no news of PanFlu;
    many deaths were going unreported before the flooding, and now, everything is chaos and all illnesses/deaths can be written off as flood-related, (if they are written down at all).

    Also, Pakistan is one of the places unable/unwilling to test for the ‘NDM-1″ that makes antibiotic-resistant bacterial pneumonia, or, E.coli, et cetera, which was already getting around last year.
    [Echoes of China, where, ‘bad news is state secret’, and, the “SARS” name objections:
    India is downplaying new threat because govt dislikes the NewDelhiM-1 tag, and fears name will,’hurt the economy’]

    No word on what NDM-1 bacteria + PanFlu does to people, but, too few panflu cases are even getting Tamiflu at symptom onset.

    “Pakistanis block highways to protest slow flood aid”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66T3RS20100816
    …”relief was too slow to arrive for millions without clean water, food and homes.
    Public anger has grown in the two weeks of floods, highlighting potential political troubles for an unpopular government overwhelmed by a disaster that has disrupted the lives of at least a tenth of its 170 million people.
    Hundreds of villages across Pakistan in an area roughly the size of Italy have been marooned” [snip]

    …”The speed with which the situation is deteriorating is frightening,” [snip]

    Meanwhile, some parts of India are still publishing articles saying ‘the panflu vaccine is not for pregnant women’! (They should instead be listing panflu’s ‘novel’ symptoms and reminding the public and clinicians to start Tamiflu rather than want ‘test confirmation’ first- they missed all the 2009 memos?)

    Pandemic is not “over”;
    H1N1 is still killing healthy, teens, 20-, 30-, and 40- year olds-
    ‘seasonal flu’ was when 90% of the deaths were over age 65.

    Would have to wait at least as long as, “Spanish flu” lasted (and, of course, until H5N1 disappears for real; not just via Censorship) until world started thinking about letting anyone’s panflu guard down.

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