Countrywide toll mounts to 1,370
Guwahati/ Jorhat, March 9: Swine flu has claimed its first victim in Assam.
The first death due to swine flu in the State has been reported after the blood sample of a suspected victim, collected post-death, tested positive for the H1N1 virus.
Nodal officer for swine flu monitoring in the State Dr Bhabesh Bhagawati confirmed the death of a swine flu patient.
He said the person was undergoing treatment for high blood pressure and sugar at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, with symptoms of H1N1 influenza.
“He was referred to the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital here. But he expired on the way. His blood tested positive for H1N1 virus,” Bhagawati said.
The victim expired on March 6 last, local reports said, and the blood tests results were made available only yesterday. The victim was a retired treasury officer from Sivasagar and a resident of Choladhara in Jorhat.
Reports said he was in Majuli for some time, before falling sick.
“The deceased was admitted at JMCH on March 3 at around 2 PM. He was shifted to the ICU and was examined by doctors of medicine and chest specialists. He was a patient with uncontrolled diabetes and the condition of his kidneys had already deteriorated, requiring dialysis at higher centers. Accordingly, the family of the deceased, upon a written consent on March 4, took the patient on an ambulance equipped with ventilation facilities to Guwahati. However, he succumbed on the way. We have received the official letter from ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) Lahowal in Dibrugarh, indicating H1N1 virus on the patient’s body,” Deputy Superintendent of JMCH Dr Nilutpal Bhattacharjee said.
The death has raised questions about the preparedness of the State health department. Sources said the JMCH has not yet set up isolation wards as part of swine flu precautiory measures. There are also allegations that doctors there did not treat the victim for swine flu and he was diagnosed of the virus only after his death.
Two more suspected patients - one from Jorhat and another from Bokajan in Karbi Anglong district – are being kept in isolation after they were referred to JMCH from the Mission Hospital, Jorhat.
Six other cases of swine flu have been detected in the State so far, and all the patients have recovered already, the State health department informed.
Superintendent of JMCH Dr Bobbyjeet Goswami said, “We are trying hard for the last one week to create an eight bedded isolation ward to treat patients infected with H1N1 virus. By evening today, we will have the beds ready with one ventilator and four monitors. But the main problem is that we need more medical officers - especially two anesthesiologists, 20 to 24 staff nurses, ward boy-girl and sweepers to maintain the duty cycle of 24 hours. Right now we are short on manpower. Besides, we had a video conferencing session with the Principal Secretary, Health, on March 7. He directed us to prepare a requirement list and on the basis of that directive, we sent a letter in evening on the same day, detailing the items we need to have a fully functiol H1N1 isolation ward for the greater benefit of the public”.
It may be mentioned that swine flu is spreading across India, with the toll mounting to 1,370 according to the latest figures released by the Union Health ministry. The number of people who have contracted the H1N1 virus has now crossed 25,000. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are the worst affected states.
The continued rise in number of swine flu cases is being attributed to unusual weather conditions, including unseasol rains, that have kept humidity levels high and allowed the H1N1 virus to thrive.