The media are reporting on the current influenza season in India. The predominant strain this season is H1N1 (swine flu); the same as that circulating during influenza seasons since 2009. The number of cases this year has shown a recent spike. As of 15 February 2015, a total of 8423 cases, including 585 deaths has been reported nationally. The majority of fatalities have been those with underlying medical conditions and those who were late in obtaining medical attention.
The worst affected states include: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra in northwest, central and west India. Ministry of Health officals have developed guidelines and teams have been dispatched to the worst affected areas to offer support.
Advice for Travellers
Travellers to countries during their influenza season are at similar risk of infection as local residents.
Crowded conditions encourage spread of infection and travellers can be exposed, for example in those attending pilgrimages (e.g. the Hajj), in aircraft, waiting rooms, buses, bars, hotels and on cruises.
The composition of the 2014/2015 southern hemisphere influenza vaccine includes the H1N1 strain. Travellers included in the government's at risk groups should ensure that they receive the annual influenza vaccine, particularly if travel is anticipated. Travellers outwith these groups may wish to obtain the vaccine privately (if still available) if concerned.
- One of the most important ways of preventing the spread of infection is careful and frequent hand washing.
- If soap, clean water and towels are not available, alcohol hand rub can be used.
- If possible avoid crowded places.
- If possible avoid coughs and sneezes.