The city is witnessing a rise in cases of respiratory illnesses, viral infections, diarrhoea and stomach infections. Pune and other districts, too, are witnessing higher footfall in the outpatient departments (OPD) of private hospitals and clinics. The general cautionary message is to use discretion when tempted with cold foods at eateries outside during monsoon.
Doctors said that 60% of cases in OPDs are of respiratory infections with symptoms of cough, cold and wheezing, while 20-30% are gastrointestinal infections. Some patients have also been diagnosed with influenza, while others with seasonal coronavirus (not Covid-19) and respiratory syncytial virus.
Self-medication can lead to other complications
A senior infectious diseases expert said this is an annual uptick and people need to take extra care. He said self-medicating can lead to other complications. “We have been witnessing more than 50 patients daily at the OPD level complaining of high fever, runny nose, asthma, cough and allergic bronchitis,” he said.
As the BMC data suggests, a notable increase in gastroenterology cases is primarily attributed to unhygienic supply of water and food. A probable cause for this year’s sudden surge, in contrast to the post-pandemic years of 2021 and 2022, might be the increase in people resuming outdoor activities and negligence towards hygienic practices.
A doctor said standard symptoms manifest as vague abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and loose motion, with children and older adults being the most vulnerable. People with compromised immunity like pre-existing diabetes, asthma or chronic lung disease and cancer patients also need to pay heed.
High moisture content, sluggish metabolism raise risk of infection
Dr Madhukar Gaikwad, a physician at JJ Hospital, attributed monsoon, the high moisture content in the air and sluggish metabolism during monsoon as three reasons for increased infections this time of the year. He said that young people who frequently eat outside are commonly infected. He said, “Bacterial pathogens such as salmonella, staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli are the most common causes of food poisoning. Water and food contamination in hot weather is one of the leading causes of gastro cases.”
Dr Gaikwad said contamination can happen anytime; while preparing food, storing it or even while eating if the hands are not clean, leading to food-borne illnesses. Dehydration in such cases can make the situation worse, he said, adding that gastro is not mild diarrhoea but it can cause sepsis and multi-organ failure, especially kidney failure because of dehydration.