Fear of flu attacks have surfaced with the city continuing to receive rainfall. Doctors say they are seeing more cases of air-borne viral infections, which is not normal this time of the year.
The city has been experiencing intermittent showers since the beginning of the month and the moisture in the atmosphere has been conducive for the spread of infections, they add.
The prevalence rate for viral infection has increased but the severity is low. Doctors say they receive patients who tell them that the cold and cough which they commonly suffer during the season show no sign of receding.
Private hospitals in the city and the suburbs are seeing more patients coming with a recent onset of cough and breathing difficulty. In his private practice he has been getting more patients with air-borne viral infections, says pulmonologist Ravi Santosham.
Viral infections become common during the wet season as the virus is more concentrated and suspended in the atmosphere, he says. “A wet surface is a good nidus for microbes to grow,” he adds.
Unlike in the northern hemisphere where asthma is more common among children, in India young adults and the elderly are also prone to asthma, he said.
“The seasonal change, the recent spate of rain and water-logging has brought more patients,” said chest physician K. Madhu of Frontier Lifeline, who has also been treating more patients for asthma and viral infections.
According to P. Ramachandran, Director of the Institute of Child Health, though the Government Children's Hospital in Egmore has been receiving more patients with stomach infection and diarrhoea, fewer children have reported with fever.
Since September, the hospital has not received cases of A (H1N1) influenza, he said. Doctors say those who sought treatment for viral infection have responded to the usual dose of medications.
Prasad Kulkarni, Additional Medical Director at Serum Institute of India, Pune, recommended taking the Nasovac vaccine as in India, unlike in the United Kingdom, flu attacks were common during monsoon and winter. “Spending Rs.160 on the nasal vaccine to prevent A (H1N1) flu is a small price to pay compared to the larger expense of hospitalisation,” he said.