As many as 13,188 cases of Influenza A (H1N1) and 632 deaths due to the virus have been reported across the country this year till July 2017 compared to 1,786 cases and 265 deaths in 2016, according to this reply by union health minister J P Nadda to the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) on July 21, 2017.

Southern and western states have been the most affected by the disease this year. Tamil Nadu (2,904) has reported the highest number of cases followed by Maharashtra (2,738), Karnataka (2,480), Telangana (1,450) and Kerala (1,169).

Source: Lok Sabha

Maharashtra has reported the highest number of deaths (303), almost half of the deaths this year.

H1N1 is a respiratory disorder, similar to the seasonal flu, and symptoms include sudden onset of fever, chills, sore throat, headache, cough and body ache.

It can cause complications like pneumonia and lung infection, and elderly, infants and those with pre-existing ailment like diabetes are vulnerable. Since the virus spreads through droplets when an infected person sneezes and/or coughs, the transmission is swift.

India had the worst outbreak of H1N1 influenza in 2015 when over 42,000 were infected and almost 3,000 died.

Apart from increasing the diagnostic capacity of laboratories where samples are tested, “central teams were also deployed to assist Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana where large laboratory-confirmed H1N1 cases have been reported in 2017,” Nadda said.

Oseltamivir, the drug for the treatment of Influenza, can now be sold by all licenced chemists under prescription unlike earlier when only certain select pharmacies were authorised to stock the medicine, the minister said.

(Yadavar is principal correspondent with IndiaSpend.)

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