India is suffering from an epidemic of swine flu, which has already claimed 12 lives. Now the Health Secretary is issuing a health warning for certain areas of the country.
"The health ministry is monitoring the situation, and there is no cause for worry," Health Secretary PK Pradhan told the Press Trust of India. "The states where cases had been reported have been advised to step up surveillance to control the further spread of the virus."
The state of Goa is taking particular caution as a result of the latest epidemic. Over 110 Indian citizens have tested positive for swine flu, sparking fear that the numbers could rise even higher at a very rapid rate. India has been particularly vulnerable to swine flu; it was only three years ago that more than 500 people died from the disease.
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to that of regular flu, but swine flu is more lethal. Death often occurs as a result of respiratory failure, pneumonia, exceedingly high fever, renal failure and dehydration. The elderly, young, and women who are pregnant are more susceptible to the disease.
The 2009 epidemic that greatly affected India spread throughout the world and killed nearly 12,000 Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also estimated that 265,000 were hospitalized for swine flu. As a result, researchers began working on a vaccine for the disease, and now people can choose to receive the swine flu vaccination along with the traditional flu vaccine.
Though the rate of deaths and influenza cases has subsided in the U.S., India has been continually hit hard. In April 2011, the World Health Organization noted: "The deadly virus continues to take its toll. It claimed more lives in Maharashtra in 2010-2011 than any other infectious disease."
The Indian government was certain that the greatest threat of swine flu had passed, though researchers noted that there was still a significant threat for those in rural or unprotected areas. "The virus has not gone away," warned Dr. A.C. Mishra. "It has just taken on the behavior of a seasonal virus and will continue to be in the air…vulnerable sections [of the state] should be on guard."