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Outbreak of swine flu in India is no worse than seasonal flu, say specialists

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h1097 (Published 26 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1097
  1. Priyanka Pulla
  1. 1Bangalore

The outbreak of H1N1 influenza in India this year, which has killed 875 people since 1 January, is not yet a major concern because the incidence and mortality are no different from those caused by seasonal flu in developed countries such as the United States, infectious disease specialists have told The BMJ.

However, they said the Indian government should now recommend vaccination for at-risk groups including elderly people, patients with chronic diseases, pregnant women, and young children.

India does not currently recommend yearly influenza vaccinations for the general public because the burden of H1N1 is so small when compared with diseases such as tuberculosis, which affected 2.1 million people in 2013.1 Such a vaccination becomes ineffective after a year and takes 3-4 weeks to confer immunity—making its large scale use impractical, said Jagat Prakash Nadda, India’s health minister, in written responses to questions raised in the upper and lower houses of the Indian parliament this week. However, since the H1N1 outbreak began last year the health ministry has recommended a vaccine …

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