Most swine flu cases remain unreported in India: Doctors

Representative image. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 07, 2019, 03.20 PM (IST) Nagen Singh

As the year's winter is about to get over in North India, there is a worrying spike in the number of swine flu infections spreading in the country. More than 61 per cent of overall cases found in India has been reported from the northern states of Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab. Over 226 swine flu deaths have already been reported but many doctors suggest that the figures could be much higher. 

Dr Vikram Jeet Singh is a senior consultant in internal medicine at a private hospital in Delhi. He has already diagnosed more than 80 swine flu cases so far and says that the infection, without proper prevention, could become an epidemic.

"Considering a city like Delhi, which has much higher density than most cities, is more prone to H1N1 virus spreading among people. I have already admitted more than 37 patients this year in my hospital. The official number of cases don't indicate the real number of swine flu infections and deaths. There are thousands of small private hospitals and every hospital and doctor do not report swine flu cases to municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD)."

Viruses are multiplying in the bitter cold of north India. Swine flu cases have spiralled in the states of Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana. According to data from the national centre for disease control, Rajasthan is the worst affected state with 2,263 cases and 85 deaths this year. Heavily populated Delhi has registered 1,011 cases. Swine flu cases have come to light in Gujarat, Haryana and other states as well. But, these are official reports which have been reported by different hospitals, there are many cases which have gone unreported.

WION spoke to doctors from over four government hospitals and several private hospitals who claim that the real figures may be much more higher than the numbers reported in New Delhi.

An official from one of the biggest hospitals in New Delhi, Ram Manohar Lohiya said, "We do report the cases of H1N1 virus, but many patients who come to the hospital show symptoms similar to the seasonal flu. This makes it more complicated to differentiate the swine flu patients from them. There are many who leave without treatment who are diagnosed with infection."

In all, India has recorded almost 6700 swine cases and 226 deaths this year, the numbers may, in fact, be higher. Doctors say the elderly, newborns, children and adults under 25 are at higher risk.

Swine flu

A contagious disease, swine flu gets transmitted usually when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Those infected thus are treated in complete isolation. 

There is fear among the people because the infection can become an epidemic. Swine flu made headlines first in 2009 when it affected people in many countries. The symptoms include a headache, fever, runny nose, cough and muscle pain. A majority of the cases have been reported from densely populated areas, where the probability of infection is higher.

The fear of swine flu became worse as the number of people getting infected with the disease is expected to grow this winter. The H1N1 viruses are expected to be the most prevalent strain this flu season. Only time will tell if the fear is justified.

Story highlights

A total of 226 swine flu deaths have been reported this winter but doctors say the number could actually be much higher and that without proper prevention, an epidemic might be looming.