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Monsoon diseases overtake rain in city

Shower woes

Calcutta, July 7: The monsoon is playing hard to get but the diseases it harbingers have arrived and are spreading fast in Calcutta.

Doctors said the infrequent rain was causing fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels, resulting in a spurt in diseases such as dengue, typhoid, conjunctivitis, viral fever and hepatitis.

Doctors said about 20 per cent patients coming to clinics had symptoms of viral infection.

“Viral infections are spreading mainly because of the changes in temperature and humidity. We are also detecting cases of dengue and typhoid,” said Subrata Maitra, a city-based critical care expert.

“But this monsoon, the symptoms of most viral and bacterial diseases are almost identical. Patients are suffering from fever, headache, cough and cold, joint pain and nausea,” he added.

The health department spokesperson said cases of dengue were on the rise. “We are getting reports of positive dengue cases both from private and government hospitals,” Asit Biswas said. He said monsoon triggered vector-borne diseases. The department is, however, yet to receive any report of haemorrhagic dengue, which has a higher rate of morbidity and mortality than other types of the disease.

Belle Vue Clinic sources said two persons with dengue were admitted to the facility. The condition of both is stable, they said.

Apurba Ghosh, the director of the Institute of Child Health, Calcutta, said two persons — a 15-year-old girl from Salt Lake and a seven-year-old boy from Ballygunge — had tested positive for dengue.

Several cases of conjunctivitis have also been reported in Calcutta, with ophthalmologists blaming unhygienic swimming pools for the outbreak.

“Patients usually have symptoms similar to pharyngo-conjunctival fever. They are suffering from pharyngitis, fever and conjunctivitis at the same time,” said ophthalmologist Abhijit Sen. “In some cases, the conjunctivitis is haemorrhagic as blood is oozing from the eyes.”

According to Sen, most patients caught the infection from swimming pools where the water is not properly purified.

“The conjunctivitis is apparently caused by adenovirus and is extremely infectious. It has high chances of transmission. Many are catching the infection from swimming pools where the water is not disinfected properly,” the ophthalmologist said.

Doctors suggest that one should wash the eyes with drinking water after coming out of a swimming pool to avoid infections.

Doctors said the extremely humid weather in Calcutta was ideal for the spread of pulmonary diseases. “Even young people without any pre-existing lung diseases are suffering from flu, pneumonia and other bronchial infections,” a city-based pulmonologist said.

Microbiologists said the rhinoviruses and adenoviruses were causing viral infection. “These viruses grow in hot and humid conditions, and monsoon is the ideal season,” microbiologist Bhaskar Narayan Chaudhuri said.

Rhinoviruses cause fever with cough and cold, while adenovirus cause conjunctivitis, respiratory distress, joint pain, runny nose and occasional rash, experts said.

Children are suffering from common influenza and typhoid. At least 20 per cent children coming to the outpatient departments of hospitals are suffering from viral infections and diarrhoea.