Doctors in Mumbai have once again noticed a spurt of viral infections over the last 10 days, especially those causing upper respiratory tract infections. This comes after the city witnessed heavy rains since last week. Doctors said are seeing a daily average of 15-20 patients of which at least 2-4 are turning out to be Covid or swine flu positive after conducting RT-PCR or H1N1 tests. Doctors have warned against ignoring the symptoms and self-medication and fluctuating temperatures and irregular rainfall in the city have turned out to be a major setback for people’s health.
The outpatient departments (OPD) of the four major civic hospitals – King Edward Memorial (KEM), Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General, Dr RN Cooper Municipal General and BYL Nair – have reported a 50-60 per cent rise in viral infection cases. “In the past few days, the number of patients visiting our OPDs has increased owing to the change in the weather. Most of them are children and senior citizens with many complaining of allergies and viral fever,” said a senior health officer.
General physicians said the immediate effects are cough, throat infections and pneumonia in the long term, and the results could be disastrous as one could also develop severe lung cancer. “Patients have started coming to the OPD with complaints of breathlessness, coughing, sneezing, tightness in the chest, allergy and asthma complications. More than 30-40 patients come in daily for respiratory ailments,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, general physician, Bombay Hospital.
Health experts said that the virus thrives in a fluctuating temperature due to which cases have increased. “We are getting at least 10 patients every day in the hospital’s OPD with respiratory problems due to which we are asking them to undergo RT-PCR tests. Not everyone requires hospitalisation but in a situation where there is high fever, usually above 100 degrees, patients seek admission and require intravenous antibiotics,” said a doctor from KEM Hospital.
Most patients undergo an RT-PCR test to rule out Covid before being treated for symptoms such as fever, cough and cold. Due to the Covid-induced lockdown last year, there was a lull in non-Covid ailments. But with the occurrence of the third wave, doctors have noticed a trend of rising fever cases. “While Covid cases in Mumbai are increasing with the higher test positivity rate (TPR), we are seeing more adults with fever and cough, leading to breathing problems because of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) which generally affects children. Patients with Covid symptoms who are testing negative are now checked for RSV,” said a doctor.
Dr Vinita Singh Tandon (consultant) said apart from the change in weather conditions, which is an important factor, there is a drastic reduction in the wearing of masks which makes respiratory viral illnesses more contagious. Improper disposal of waste, water storage and poor hygienic conditions have led to increased infections of dengue and malaria. “High-grade fever, body aches, sore throat, headaches and loose stools are the most common symptoms. Proper hydration, a nutritious diet and adequate rest are the mainstay of treatment. In case of warning signs, it's advisable to see your doctor,” she said.
Infectious disease expert Dr Vikrant Shah said, “Citizens need to take more precaution as now viral fever and Covid is going hand-in-hand, due to which it is difficult to differentiate as it contains a high viral load which can spread faster to the community. Citizens need to adhere to Covid norms and should get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said.