The swine flu outbreak in India is increasing at an alarming rate. The deadly virus has claimed the lives of 1,537 people across the country since December 2014. The recent statistics reveal that more than 27,234 people have been infected.
Swine flu is
- an infection caused by several types of swine influenza viruses.
- the strain of influenza family viruses which are endemic in pigs.
- also known as H1N1
- transmitted from pigs to humans but it does not always result in human flu.
- more likely to affect people working with poultry,veterinarians,meat processing workers.
- highly infectious, killing around 18,000 people worldwide between 2009 and 2012.
A recent study conducted by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reveals that the Swine flu virus is becoming more severe and infectious.
The study carried out by two MIT researchers contested the claims of Indian health authorities that the strain has not changed from version of H1N1 appeared in 2009.The study suggests that the H1N1 virus has mutated to become more virulent.
Key findings in the research
- current flu strains carry new mutations in the hemagglutinin protein,found on the surface of the influenza viruses,which binds with receptors on the human body’s respiratory cells.The strength of the binding determines how the virus can enter those cells.
one mutation increases the severity of the disease and the second one enhances its infectiousness.
The researchers compared the two influenza strains currently plaguing the Indian population with 2009 strain of H1N1 using their genetic sequences.
The shortage of anti- viral drugs like Tamiflu, inadequate testing facilities and the government’s failure to take appropriate actions are the other prominent reasons for the increase in the rate of H1N1 at an alarming rate.
Swine flu deaths from 2011 to 2014