Pune: A perceptible spurt in Swine Flu cases in the city, with as many as seven fatalities since January, has led civic health authorities to step up screening measures. The latest victim of the H1N1 virus in the city was a five-month-old baby which succumbed a couple of days ago, taking the death toll in the last three months to seven.

About 20 people are currently undergoing treatment for the infection in different hospitals with half a dozen of them needing ventilator support. "Swine Flu has become endemic in Pune region. The hospitals have been advised to focus on the elderly with underlying medical conditions and newborns who are more susceptible to the virus," said S T Pardeshi, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

The baby's death is the first under the paediatric age category since January as per PMC records. The throat swabs of the deceased tested positive for Swine flu on March 20. Health officials said the increase in the Swine flu cases could be due to a widely fluctuating and erratic climate and temperatures characterized by hotter days and colder nights experienced at present in the region.

Standard precautionary measures have been advised by health officials to prevent active transmission of the virus which include regular washing of hands with soap, water and alcohol based disinfectants and covering nose and mouth with a tissue while coughing and sneezing. According to officials, 19 casualties due to Swine Flu infection have so far been reported from all over Maharashtra since January this year.

Pune had emerged as epicenter of the dreaded virus when the country's first Swine flu casualty was reported from the city in 2009. Asked as to whether the virus had undergone a mutation, Pardeshi said the civic authorities had not received any such advisory and maintained that Tamiflu tablets continued to be the mainline treatment for the infection with satisfactory results.


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