At a time when Mumbai is reopening with caution and citizens are worried about the deadly Covid-19 variant Delta Plus, doctors in the city are reporting a rise in other viral fevers, especially those causing respiratory problems for the patients. This has also led to a rise in the Covid tests as most patients -- adults and children – undergo such tests to rule out Covid-19.
Dr Suresh Birajdar, consultant, paediatrics and neonatology, Motherhood Hospital, said flu was also an “epidemic”, and if the children fail to take the jab to protect against it, they might end up getting hospitalised. “The flu shot is a preventive measure against viral infection and reduces the risk of developing respiratory problems such as pneumonia, which aggravates one’s risk of getting infected with Covid-19. Moreover, changing weather brings in several respiratory issues among children,” he said.
“The flu can raise the chances of children suffering from pneumonia, hospitalisation, and even mortality. Every year influenza virus mutates, and the body’s immunity to influenza either through natural infection or vaccination goes down over time. It is the need of the hour to get the flu shot every year. Flu vaccines can help a person develop antibodies about two weeks after taking the vaccine,” Dr Birajdar said.
A senior health official said the number of patients suffering from viral fever was increasing. These patients suffer from high fever, cough, sore throat and body aches. “As the temperature fluctuates, civic hospitals see a rise in patients suffering from viral infection and stomach ailments,” he said.
Health experts said that the virus thrives in a fluctuating temperature due to which cases have increased. “We are getting at least ten patients every day in our outpatient department (OPD) with respiratory problems. 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.
Healthcare experts said the phenomenon of ‘temperature inversion’ intensifies air pollution. The burning of coal, kerosene, wood, and garbage, and vehicular exhaust fumes give rise to suspended particulate matter, which is responsible for pollutants getting dispersed in the air. The increase in allergies, along with smog and pollutants, can predispose children to viral and bacterial infections, causing breathing difficulties. “An alarming increase in air pollution attacks the respiratory system. Moreover, higher levels of carbon monoxide directly hit the cardiovascular system and the entire respiratory tract, particularly among children,” a doctor said.
The BMC’s executive health officer, Dr Mangala Gomare, said that fever cases were “normal during rains”. “Viruses circulate in humid conditions. Temperature fluctuations are higher this season,” she said.