- It is a respiratory disease caused by a strain of the influenza type A virus known as H1N1.
- H1N1 Flu is also known as swine flu.
- It is called swine flu because in the past the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs.
- It can be transmitted from one person to another by coughing and sneezing.
- Its symptoms are similar to those of standard, seasonal flu like fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and chills.
- The vulnerable groups include pregnant women, children under five, the over-65s and those with serious medical conditions.
- The virus first appeared in Mexico in 2009 and rapidly spreaded around the world.
- In 2009, H1N1 was spreading fast around the world, so the World Health Organisation called it a pandemic.
What makes Maharashtra, particularly vulnerable?
- Urbanisation and overcrowding: More the number of people, more are the chances of spreading the disease.
- Good surveillance system: Presence of good surveillance system helps in tracking of all the cases. The increased number of cases is a reflection of good surveillance system.
- Antigenic shift: It is a process in which two or more strains of a virus combine to form a new subtype. It is observed at regular intervals which is the main reason why there has been a spurt in the cases.
- Failure to detect on time: The symptoms of disease such as fever, a runny nose and a sore throat are often ignored and self-treated. By the time patients consults the doctor two or three days have been wasted.
- Faded effect of vaccination: Vaccine against H1N1 was administered to the patients in 2015 when major cases were reported. The vaccine gives immunity for about 8-9 months. This could be the reason why state of Maharashtra did not have many cases in 2016 but now see a rise in number of cases.