The Maharashtra government on Thursday said 268 people had died of swine flu in the state between January and October, while 32 people who tested positive are on ventilator support, PTI reported.

Health Minister Deepak Sawant said around 2,300 people have been infected with swine flu in the state. “This year, 60% of the swine flu patients hail from rural areas,” he said, adding that several people who died are in the 41 to 50 age group. Sawant added that 29 people had also died of dengue across the state till October.

Sawant had convened a meeting of the Diseases Control Committee to address the increasing number of swine flu cases in the state. “Maharashtra is the first state to formulate guidelines for treatment in such a way,” he said after the meeting. “These guidelines, according to which swine flu patients should be treated, will be sent to all government and private hospitals in the state.”

Sawant said the guidelines emphasise on how to treat patients in the intensive care unit. The minister said hospitals have also been instructed to administer Tamiflu to patients suffering from cold and fever in case their condition does not improve even after 24 hours of medication.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by a strain of the H1N1 influenza. The strain originated in pigs, but is now a human disease whose symptoms are similar to those of a seasonal flu. The symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and chills. Pregnant women, children under five, the elderly and those with serious medical ailments and impaired immune systems are susceptible to the flu.

At least 12 people have died of swine flu in Andhra Pradesh over the last two months, while three deaths have been reported from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.