India, it seems, is in the grips of a major swine flu epidemic which has claimed more than 1,000 lives this year, 342 in the last month alone, according to public health officials in the country.
What is the Swine Flu?
The swine flu, as the name suggests, is a strain of the influenza virus that first originated in pigs known as H1N1. The disease, which is spread primarily by coughing and sneezing, originated in Mexico back in 2009, and is considered to be highly contagious, inflicting symptoms traditionally ascribed to a regular flu, such as body aches, chills, and fever among other things.
Among certain at-risk populations, particularly pregnant women, small children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, the disease can often prove lethal.
After the initial 2009-2010 outbreak, which claimed the lives of more than 2,700 Indians in a matter of months, the disease seemed to have gone into remission, lying relatively dormant until 2015, when a second outbreak claimed an additional 1,900 lives on the subcontinent.
The death toll this year can very possibly exceed these numbers, and Dr. Sanjay Gururaj, the medical director at the private Shanthi Hospital in Bangalore, told members of the press that he fears
“the numbers in the official report are possibly just the tip of the iceberg.”
The latest resurgence has caught many off guard, and the western state of Maharashtra appears to be the worst hit in this most recent epidemic, where the death toll stands at 437, followed closely by the neighboring state of Gujarat, which has seen 297 deaths within its borders.
Indian medical facilities nationwide are now preparing to brace for further casualties in the coming months, as numbers of fatalities are only expected to rise.
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