The sultry weather has brought with it an increasing number of cases of chickenpox, measles and viral fever among children.
State-run hospitals in the city are receiving at least three cases of viral infection daily. Some private hospitals and clinics have also reported high incidence of such infections. However, it is not an outbreak, and the disease has not reached alarming levels, said doctors.
According to doctors, most cases are going unreported because of the superstitious beliefs followed by some parents who feel that the infection in their child is because of the “blessings of a goddess”.
At the State-run Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, at least four cases of chickenpox and two cases of measles are reported daily. According to the institute director R. Premlatha, most of the cases are from orphanages and overcrowded places where summer camps are being conducted in the city.
S. Pushpalatha, head of the Department of Paediatrics in Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, said the incidence of chickenpox is usually high between February and April as the weather is conducive for varicella-zoster, the virus that causes the infection, to thrive. “Children aged above two are usually affected. Adults, who have not had chickenpox, are also likely to be affected,” she said.Ineffective vaccination
Dr. Pushpalatha, who is also seeing a considerable number of measles cases, said the infection could be spreading from overcrowded areas and slums where there is a possibility of some children having missed the routine immunisation.
Measles is one of the most contagious viral diseases caused by a virus from the paramyxovirus family. Infected children develop fever with rashes all over the body. The virus depletes Vitamin A in the body, she said.
If the baby has been vaccinated against measles before nine months, there is a possibility of maternal antibodies interfering with the vaccination, making it ineffective. This could be another reason for the spread of the disease, Dr. Pushpalatha said.‘Treat early’
Paediatrician H. Paramesh said both chickenpox and measles could affect the brain, if not treated early. Chickenpox symptoms include low fever, running nose, cough and loss of appetite. According to the doctor, most parents do not bathe the infected child, which is wrong. The child should be bathed with an antiseptic soap daily for the infection to subside quickly, he said.