Mumbai: Over the past 10 days, city doctors have noted a surge in viral infections across Mumbai, particularly upper respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, and breathlessness among both elderly individuals and children.
Doctors have reported that an average of 15-20 patients per day are seeking treatment for respiratory syncytial virus and influenza virus. Medical professionals are urging the public not to ignore symptoms or resort to self-medication.
The fluctuating temperatures and irregular rainfall in the city are posing a major setback to people’s health, according to health experts. Children, the elderly, and individuals with underlying immune-compromised conditions such as diabetes and asthma are particularly susceptible to these infections, the experts said.
The symptoms include high-grade fever accompanied by chills, breathing difficulties, phlegm, persistent dry cough, cold, fatigue, vomiting, and irritability.
“Respiratory health issues and constant changes in the weather have led to various health problems. Children and elderly with weak immunity and suffering from chronic lung problems such as asthma, bronchitis, congenital heart disease, kidney disease and other respiratory conditions are prone to pneumonia. It is fatal and can lead to severe lung damage, thus timely treatment is necessary,” said a senior health official.
Susceptibility to influenza due to weather
“The monsoon season heightens children’s susceptibility to influenza due to a confluence of factors. Elevated humidity and increased moisture in the atmosphere create a setting conducive to the persistence and transmission of the influenza virus,” Dr Bela Verma, head of the paediatric unit at the government-run Sir Jamshedjee Jeejeebhoy (JJ) Hospital.
Senior health officers have reported an upward trend in influenza cases, mostly H3N2, and other respiratory viruses, RSV and H1N1 (swine flu), over the past 15 days. Many patients have complained of persistent dry cough lasting several weeks, with bouts of coughing so severe that they cause blackouts. Public and private hospitals' chest and fever outpatient departments (OPD) continue to receive a large number of patients with respiratory complaints such as lingering cough, cold, runny nose, wheezing, throat irritation, and breathing difficulties. Both children and adults are being severely affected by these respiratory issues.
“An estimated 5-10% of respiratory patients require hospitalisation. The elderly aged above 75 years and those with compromised immunity due to comorbidities may have severe symptoms, especially due to secondary bacterial infection, and require ICU care,” said Dr Madhukar Gaikwad, a physician at JJ hospital.
Moreover, the drastic reduction in the wearing of masks is another contributing factor to the spread of respiratory viral illnesses. 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,” said former state surveillance officer, Dr Pradip Awate.