Rajasthan is facing a swine flu outbreak- in one month, 1627 people across the state have tested positive for the virus and 59 people have died, five of them in just two days.
Looking at the severity of the outbreak the state government is now on a war footing to control the outbreak. One way is through a mammoth screening drive in which over 27 lakh households have been screened and 1174 suspected cases have been given medication.
Health teams are also screening pregnant women who are at a high risk of swine flu complications.
Doctors say the high mortality rate is because all patients cannot access advanced health care facilities.
Rajasthan has only 12 government hospitals and medical centres where one can test for swine flu. District and primary health centres don't have the means to carry out swine flu tests and that is proving to be critical because swine flu, if not diagnosed on time, can be fatal.
Bansi Lal, 45, from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan has finally made his way to Jaipur, 250 kilometres away from his village, for treatment. For a fortnight, he has been suffering from cold, cough and fever. At first, he consulted local doctors in his village, and then he made his way to the primary health centre. But despite medication and injections to bring his fever under control he did not recover. His family then took him to the Jhunjhunu district hospital 55 km from his village.
In Jhunjhunu, doctors saw falling platelets levels in a blood test and referred him to Jaipur. It was only in Jaipur that a test confirmed swine flu. Once the treatment began, Bansi recovered and now does not need to use an oxygen cylinder, though he still gets short of breath.
Patients like him who do not have access to proper health care facilities are the worst affected by the swine flu outbreak.
Most patients who are suffering from severe swine flu are either those who delayed treatment or had pre-existing medical conditions.
"The main problem we have identified is delayed referral and delay in seeking medical help. On an average people are coming after five days when they should come in 2-3 days," says Dr Raman Sharma, Professor of Medicine at the SMS hospital and the nodal officer for swine flu monitoring in the state.
Since yesterday, 5 deaths have been reported taking the total toll to 59 in just 24 days.
Not having enough labs to test swine flu is one part of the problem but the state government has not heeded warnings.
Last year in January the state reported 705 cases and 53 deaths.
Had the government been prepared in advance for what is a seasonal flu it would now not be struggling to cope.
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