Chennai: Flu-trackers have predicted a high incidence of seasonal flu in India in 2018 based on outbreak trends in winter in southern hemisphere after Australia reported a record high incidence of flu.
The predictions suggest a rise in incidence of flu in northern hemisphere, including India. Though an influenza outbreak has not been reported, a total of 1,353 cases and 133 deaths have been reported in the country till February 25, 2018.
Tamil Nadu witnessed 40 cases and one death up to February 25 this year as per the recent data released by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Tamil Nadu saw a spurt in cases of influenza deaths amidst the dengue outbreak between August-October last year, while a large number of patients required intensive care due to the disease.
The data shows that the incidence of seasonal influenza is on the rise and requires strengthening of surveillance programmes, vaccination and medication availability.
According to a report on seasonal influenza published in Lancet, seasonal influenza-related respiratory diseases are estimated to kill up to 6.46 lakh patients annually.
The earlier estimates said the numbers can reach from 2.5-lakh-5 lakh, but the recent report shows a spike in the cases.
As per the study, age-specific mortality estimates presented a greater mortality burden in older adults and high rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths.
“Influenza can develop respiratory complications with symptoms such as cough, fever, shivering, while Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is the major complication. ARDS reduces the supply of oxygen to the lungs and the blood that may also lead to the death of the patient,” said Dr Lakshmi Prashanth, consultant pediatrician, Kauvery Hospital.
Stressing on surveillance and laboratory support to detect and respond immediately to influenza, pulmonologist at Institute of Thoracic Medicine, Dr V Ranjith says that a yearly flu vaccine is recommended for all people above six months to prevent them against influenza.
The vaccination shots need to be urged by the public health experts now to reduce the risk along with vaccinations under Universal Immunization Programme, he said....