The Telegraph
Wednesday , July 25 , 2012
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Infection spurt in sick city

- Monsoon, erratic rain add sting to viruses & bacteria

The only awardee who failed to turn up at Mamata Banerjee’s programme to honour Tolly stars on Tuesday was Prosenjit.

“For Viral,” was his text message to Metro when asked about the no-show.

The monsoon and hot and humid weather because of deficient rainfall have triggered a viral and bacterial outbreak in the city — from superstar to student — with most clinics and hospitals reporting a spurt in typhoid, fever, lung infection, hepatitis and gastroenteritis.

A woman who died at a private medical college in the city on Sunday had been diagnosed with dengue. The civic authorities, however, contested the doctors’ findings.

“There is a sharp rise in the number of people suffering from typhoid, hepatitis, gastroenteritis and viral fever over the past few days,” said critical care expert Subrata Maitra.

Twenty-year-old Sutapa Banerjee was advised hospitalisation after the fever she had been suffering from persisted for four days. “The doctor suggested a blood culture, which revealed that I had contracted typhoid. I am feeling very weak and suffering from nausea,” she said on Tuesday.

Doctors blamed poor quality of drinking water, a common problem during the monsoon, and mutation of the typhoid bacteria for the spread of the disease.

“Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi, the bacteria causing typhoid, are waterborne. A breakdown of hygiene during the monsoon is causing the spread of these bacteria,” said surgical gastroenterologist Sanjay De Bakshi.

The symptoms of the disease are high fever, abdominal pain and weakness. The fever follows a “stepladder pattern” — rising, falling and rising again.

De Bakshi said the bacteria in many cases were becoming resistant to antibiotics. “In such cases, typhoid persists and needs escalated doses of antibiotics.”

According to him, the escalated doses of antibiotics can lead to a condition among children known as pseudolithiasis. “Such children suffer from symptoms similar to that of gall bladder stones. Even an ultrasound test can give give a false impression of gall bladder stones. The symptoms usually disappear in a month,” said De Bakshi.

Abhijit Chowdhury, a professor in the department of hepatology at SSKM’s School of Digestive and Liver Disease, said one should drink boiled water and avoid outside food to prevent typhoid.

The incidence of hepatitis and gastroenteritis, too, is on the rise. Doctors blame Rotavirus for the spread of gastroenteritis.

The city is also in the grip of viral fever, which doctors attribute to the hot and humid weather resulting from lack of adequate rainfall. “A member of almost every household is suffering from viral fever. The accompanying symptoms are joint pain, weakness and rashes,” said a doctor.

Viral fever is mainly caused by Adenovirus and Rhinovirus. “These viruses thrive in hot and humid condition, like the one prevalent now. The viruses lose their sting after a long spell of rain, followed by a dip in the temperature,” said micro-biologist Bhaskar Narayan Chaudhuri.

Malaria and dengue, too, are stalking the city following the onset of the monsoon. “We have got a case of malignant malaria and a few dengue cases,” said critical care expert Maitra.

The state health department has asked doctors to follow the standard treatment protocol for viral, dengue and other monsoon ailments.