Swine flu has already killed at least 77 Indians in the first few weeks of 2019

Extra precautions.
Extra precautions.
Image: AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.
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Several Indian states are facing another deadly outbreak of H1N1 influenza, otherwise known as swine flu.

Last week, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah was hospitalised after contracting the infectious respiratory disease, but he’s not alone. As many as 2,572 cases of swine flu were recorded across India and at least 77 people have died, as of Jan. 24, according to a report by the Press Trust of India, citing government data. The latest data (pdf) available on the website of the National Centre for Disease Control shows that 49 people died within the first two weeks of the year.

The worst hit is the western state of Rajasthan, where over 1,500 people have tested positive for swine flu. The death toll is now at 56, according to PTI. Though the state government has launched screening camps and is going door-to-door to raise awareness about the disease, a report in the Indian Express newspaper showed that a lack of testing facilities in the state means that those who have contracted the disease are likely to infect many others before they are diagnosed. And delays in treatment are putting the lives of thousands at risk.

The H1N1 infection was originally transmitted through contact with pigs, but now it can be spread from person to person. Its symptoms, which include fever, coughing, a sore throat, and body ache, are similar to the regular flu. But if not treated, the H1N1 infection can lead to more serious conditions, including pneumonia and lung infections.

With the latest outbreaks, Indian states have been put on high alert and tasked with raising awareness about the disease and its risks, which are especially high for children under the age of five and the elderly. But this is hardly the first time the country has experienced a deadly outbreak of the disease. Last year alone, nearly 15,000 cases were reported and over 1,000 people died.