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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Virus sweep in weather shift
- Fever alert in warm wind syndrome

The city is under the weather, yet again. A change of temperature, with the Celsius rising through the February roof, has caused another bout of illnesses, from sore throat to high fever.

The temperature has shot up over the past seven days due to the changing wind pattern ' that's the word from the weather office. On Monday, the minimum temperature was pegged at 20.8 degrees Celsius, five degrees above normal.

'A dry wind has been blowing from the west over Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, heating up the atmosphere,' said an official. 'This has caused gusts of warm and dry wind from the west. The North Wind has been blocked and there is no wind blowing in from the sea. At 11.30 am on Monday, the relative humidity plummeted to 25 per cent, 19 per cent less than on Sunday.'

The warm wind syndrome has seen several Calcuttans succumbing to a virus attack causing influenza, commonly referred to as viral fever.

High fever, sore throat, general weakness, body ache, constant coughing, nausea and headache are the common complaints at doctors' chambers.

'The change in weather conditions and fluctuating temperatures, from a hot evening to a cold morning, create an ideal environment for the flu virus to thrive,' explains respiratory disease expert Susovan Haldar.

'This is why we keep on asking patients to be extremely careful during fluctuating weather patterns,' he added.

Doctors warn that the middle-aged and children are most likely to suffer viral infections. Those suffering from diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cancer or any other lung disorder have been identified as the vulnerable group.

'Every year, new strains of viruses attack Calcutta and this winter, WHO had warned that globally, about 20 million deaths would be reported worldwide from influenza-related diseases alone. In Calcutta, we are taking all possible precautions, including vaccination,' said medical practitioner Anup Maiti.

'Although it is not foolproof, the vaccination reduces the chances of affliction by 65 to 70 per cent. Anybody can take the shot, costing around Rs 550. The effect usually lasts a year. In the past few days, many people cutting across all age groups have opted for the vaccine,' he added.

Doctors generally offer symptomatic treatment in the form of paracetamol, painkillers (in the case of adults) and anti-allergic drugs. In some cases, doctors advice antibiotics to prevent super-imposed bacterial infections.

Once down with viral fever, doctors advise patients to drink a lot of water, undergo symptomatic treatment, wait for the virus to weaken and guard against secondary infection.

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