The Telegraph
Friday , June 3 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
Calcutta Weather
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Heat boost for virus

The prolonged spell of heat and humidity has unleashed an attack of viral fever, which in some cases is lasting a fortnight and is often accompanied by a host of serious symptoms.

Hundreds of child and adult patients are turning up at clinics and private and state-run hospitals in the city daily with high fever, sore throat, hepatitis, gastroenteritis and skin rashes.

“The extreme hot weather and high humidity have led to an outbreak of viral fever and other infections. In most cases, no specific virus can be traced and the causative tests like that for dengue, malaria and chikungunya are negative,” said critical care expert Subrata Maitra.

Apart from high fever, the most common symptoms of a viral attack are headache, body ache, sore throat and chest congestion.

“Some are also suffering from nausea and vomiting. In some the fever is continuing for 10-15 days,” said Maitra. “Those suffering from asthma and bronchitis are more susceptible to virus infection than others.”

Surgical gastroenterologist Sanjay De Bakshi said the incidence of viral hepatitis and gastroenteritis had been on the rise. “In most cases, Rotavirus is causing gastroenteritis whose symptoms are mostly similar to that of common diarrhoea. Hepatitis cases, too, have been on the rise as people working outdoors in this heat often drink unsafe water.”

Almost half the patients at the outpatients’ department of SSKM Hospital are suffering from sore throat and nasal congestion. “Infection in the pharynx causes severe pain in the throat and fever,” said Arunabha Sengupta, an associate professor in the ENT department of the hospital.

Around half the children examined at private and government hospitals are suffering from medium-to-high fever, accompanied by respiratory distress.

Apart from the usual virus that causes fever, children are also contracting Adeno virus from swimming pools. “The virus is spreading through the water in the pool. The common symptom is high fever with redness in eyes and throat,” said Apurba Ghosh, director, Institute of Child Health.

“Strong medicines like antibiotics should be avoided. Symptomatic treatment with paracetamol to control fever is preferable,” said a doctor.

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