Kashmir witnessed highest number of deaths by H1N1 influenza this year.
As per official figures, about 23 people died of Swine Flu in the Valley in 2017.
The viral infection returned strongly to Kashmir in October this year and since then 23 people have died of H1N1 influenza and all of them had tested positive.
The first casualty by Swine Flu was reported on October 23 when a man died of influenza. The latest was one on Saturday when an 80-year-old man, who had tested positive for H1N1 influenza, died at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura.
Before 2017 toll, the highest number of Swine flu deaths was reported in 2015 when 21 people died of the flu in both divisions of the state. About 495 people were detected having H1N1 influenza and 21 of them died.
As per Ministry for Health and Family Welfare, which maintains the records of Swine flu cases across India under its Integrated Diseases Surveillance Programme (IDSP), the H1N1 influenza was detected for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir seven years back.
It was for the first time in 2010 that two lives were lost due to Swine Flu in the State. 20 cases were reported in Jammu and out of them, two died later.
In 2011, the State witnessed 13 H1N1 cases and only one death was reported.
In 2013, 76 cases were detected and two died of H1N1 influenza.
“In 2012 and 2014, no Swine Flu cases or deaths were reported anywhere in Jammu and Kashmir,” IDSP data states.
It further stated that two cases of swine flu were recorded in 2016 but no deaths took place.
A senior doctor at SKIMS, who treats the influenza patients, wishing not to be named said H1N1 influenza would continue to prevail for next two months.
He said the hospital was not geared up to tackle the seasonal flu.
“H1N1 influenza came early this year and it will continue until January and February. H1N1influenzaza mostly affects those people, who are ill,” said the doctor.
In the third week of November this year, SKIMS authorities predicted a rise in the cases of Swine Flu due to prevailing cold weather conditions in Kashmir.
Director SKIMS Dr A G Ahangar told Rising Kashmir that most of the patients did not die of H1N1 influenza but due to some other ailments.
“All 22 patients did not die of H1N1 influenza. Some had other ailments like heart stroke, cancer, asthma and other infections and they were ill and most of the deaths did not happen due to H1N1,” he said.
Ahangar said they have sufficient supplies including vaccines, masks and Tamiflu tablets.
“We also have the testing lab facility in the hospital, where we do rapid test analysis,” he said.
The director said in September and October, 128 patients were admitted in the institute and 97 were discharged.
“Two doctors also tested positive for influenza and were treated in the hospital,” he said.
Ahangar asserted that the hospital was ready to deal with any such seasonal epidemic.
“To deal with Swine Flu, we brought 33,000 Tamiflu tablets and have used 31000 tablets this season. We also brought 2250 vaccines and used 1140 while rest is available in the store,” he said.
For the protection of the hospital staff, he said, they brought 14000 N95 masks and 4000 masks are available this time at the institute, which is the lone hospital treating such patients throughout the valley.
“We also bought 360 personal protection equipment’s (PPQ) for those who were dealing with N1H1 patients and only 150 were used,” he said.
Maintaining that there was no need to panic, Ahangar cautioned that a person having fever, cough, sneezing and running noose could be a case of H1N1 influenza.
He, however, said it does not mean that the person would definitely be H1N1 positive.
“It may be any type of flu. These are common viral infections, which happen in any part of the world,” he added.