TODAY -
Swine flu claims second victim in India
Source: The Sangai Express

Mumbai, August 08 2009: Swine flu today claimed the country's second victim-a 53-year-old woman here-five days after a 14-year-old Pune girl succumbed to the dreaded disease as the number of people afflicted with the virus showed a sharp rise across the country.

Fahmida Panwala, who was diabetic and suffered from hypertension, was shifted to Municipal Kasturba Hospital from private Lilavati hospital in a critical condition last night and succumbed today.

She tested positive of H1N1 after a swab test and died in the afternoon, Umesh Aigal, Chief Medical Superintendent, Kasturba hospital, told PTI.

Mumbai civic body officials said Panwala was first admitted to a private nursing home at Jogeshwari locality with swine flu symptoms three days back and shifted to Leelawati Hospital yesterday when her condition showed no sign of improvement.

After a three-hour stay at Lilavati, she was transferred to Kasturba Hospital yesterday.

Her swab was sent to National Institute of Virology in Pune last night for test whose result today confirmed she was suffering from the disease.

Jairaj Thalekar, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Health Officer, said Panwala had been suffering from fever for the past seven days.

She was given Tamiflu even before the test report came from NIV and put on ventillator as she developed acute respiratory problem.

Thalekar said doctors could not do much to save Panwala who was already in a critical condition when she was admitted.

Besides, she was suffering from diabetes and hypertension and this was the reason why swine flu "acted very fast".

Fourteen-year-old Reeda Shaikh, a class nine student of Saint Anne's girls High School in Pune, was the first victim of the disease on August 3 .

In Mumbai, 16 new H1N1 cases have been detected besides 40 in Pune.

Two are said to be in serious condition.

A total of 77 swine flu positive cases are under treatment in Mumbai and Pune.

Swine flu cases saw a surge on Friday with 96 fresh cases being reported across the country, taking the number of those afflicted with the virus to 711 .

Pune, which has witnessed the only fatality of the disease so far, saw the highest number of 37 cases being reported, joint secretary in the health ministry Vineet Chawdhry told reporters in New Delhi.

The 96 cases included four in Chennai, 13 in Delhi, three in Kolkata, six in Gurgaon, 16 in Mumbai, 10 in Bangalore, three in Mangalore, four in Hyderabad and one in Calicut among others.

Health secretary Naresh Dayal, however, said there was no need to panic as a study on the spread of the disease has shown that till now the disease was spreading indigenously only among 10 per cent of those exposed to the virus.

"There is a need to take precautions by vulnerable groups like children and those already suffering from some disease," he said.

Health ministry records show that those most affected were in the age-group of 10-14 years.

A total of 129 persons in the age-group of 10-14 years have been affected while 117 were in the age-group of 20-29 and 100 were aged between 15-19 .

"This is probably one of the reasons why it is spreading so fast in India as our country has a large younger population," he added.

Assuring that there were huge stocks of Tamiflu available with the government, he said, the government might soon allow private labs to carry out swine flu tests provided they get accredited.

Cautioning against private labs without proper facilities conducting the tests, Dayal said, "this is what happened in the Pune case where Ruby Hall performed the test and found the sample to be negative initially".

He said till now India was importing the reagents for testing from a US company, but now in view of the fast spread of the virus, it has decided to rope in a private firm from Germany also.

He said in order to ensure that doctors and medical staff don't catch the virus, special protective gear has been given to them.

"We have also decided to separate the testing labs from the isolation wards in hospitals to protect the medical staff," he added.

On a vaccine for swine flu, the health secretary said India would be able to produce the vaccine within the next four-seven months.

"Out of the three companies working on the vaccine, Serum institute has already started animal tests," Secretary Health Research V M Katoch said.

The Director General of Health Services is also working on the regulatory mechanism for such a vaccine. Dayal said as of now there is no need for restrictions on travel for within states.

However, people need to take precautions like wearing protective masks while travelling in an aircraft.


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