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Mar 31, 2013 at 09:52am IST

Swine flu kills 158 people in Gujarat in 2013, govt struggles to contain spread of virus

Rajkot: With Gujarat registering 158 deaths in the last three months, it along with Rajasthan are the worst hit states by swine flu this season.

The isolation ward at Rajkot's civil hospital in Gujarat has been witnessing a steady flow of swine flu patients over the past few months. In Rajkot district alone, there have been over 40 deaths due to swine flu since January 1 this year. Districts in Saurasthra and north Gujarat have also reported several cases and the entire state has 818 confirmed cases of swine flu this year alone.

Swine flu is increasingly becoming a matter of concern in Gujarat because the mortality rate in the state is staggeringly high with 158 deaths reported.

In contrast, there have been just 16 deaths due to swine flu in Delhi, where more than 1500 cases have been reported this year. Even Rajasthan has been badly hit with more than 115 out of 549 swine flu patients dying in the state.

While special isolation wards have been set up for swine flu patients in government hospitals of all affected districts of Gujarat, state Health Minister Nitin Patel admits there is no definite action plan to fight the disease. The onset of summer, however, is expected to bring some relief.

"The severity of swine flu will come down as the cold reduces. We are very keen to control it but as it is, containing the spread of viral infections is very difficult," said Patel.

Experts say that apart from training general medical practitioners about H1N1, at least those in high risk groups should be vaccinated against influenza before the onset of winter. "Mass immunisation is feasible. In many countries, mass immunisation for influenza happens. It can be done here too, especially for high risk groups," said Pulmonologist Dr Tushar Patel.