A limited analysis of the A(H1N1) influenza deaths in Maharashtra has indicated that late reporting for treatment was the main cause of deaths.

Preliminary analysis of randomly picked 30 deaths in Maharashtra has shown that the victims reported to the government facilities for treatment only after their condition deteriorated, mostly on the fifth day of contracting the infection, R.K. Srivastava, Director-General of Health Services (DGHS), told reporters here on Tuesday. “These patients got themselves treated by private practitioners and reported to government hospitals only when they had trouble breathing and pneumonia-like conditions had set in,” he said.

They were in the young, productive age group of 14-44 years and slipped into category ‘C.’ However, the scientific database was too limited to draw any final conclusion, he said. This could be made only after all deaths were analysed thoroughly and correlated with positive cases.

High temperature, acute cough and breathlessness were the other common conditions of patients who died of the influenza. Dr. Srivastava said the idea was to educate people to report early for treatment as the patients could not assess the severity of their condition.

As many as 78 people had died of swine flu in the country so far and 3,396 people had tested positive for the flu. Maharashtra alone accounted for 43 deaths, Karnataka 20, Gujarat 7, Delhi and Tamil Nadu three each and Uttarakhand and Kerala one each. Based on earlier experience with influenza, the Director-General said it became more virulent in lower temperatures. Studies were on to ascertain the clinical behaviour of the virus, which was a time-consuming process.

Adequate stock of medicines was available, Dr. Srivastava said. Sixteen private laboratories across the country had been identified and permitted to conduct swine flu tests.

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