The Telegraph
Wednesday , November 7 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Weather goes viral

- Damp November blows hot and cold, poses serious health risks across state

This month of many seasons may be intriguing for the weatherman, but it is of grave concern to you with a moody Celsius increasing manifold the threat of viral hyperactivity.

Bistupur trader and Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-president Suresh Sonthalia said he didn’t know what to make of the weather, which felt part summer, part monsoon and part winter.

“In Jamshedpur, we have never seen a November like this. The nip is felt by October-end and the chill is in by early November. But this year, it is still hot and humid during the day. Is this global warming?” he asked.

The maverick month has already had rain on four days out of six and more may be in store with the cloud cover persisting because of factors triggered by Cyclone Nilam. This post-monsoon sprinkling, sandwiched between heat and humidity, is offering favourable conditions for proliferation of viruses transmitted by arthropod vectors like mosquitoes.

Doctors warn that the current conditions are conducive to the spread of diseases like dengue, which has stalked Jharkhand this year, and may make a bold comeback if precautions are not taken against vectors breeding in stagnant rainwater.

According to N.P. Sahu, a microbiologist at RIMS, Ranchi, the constant fluctuations in day and night temperatures (see chart) are harmful.

“November is blowing hot and cold. The weather makes you switch on the AC at night and reach out for the rug at dawn. When you wake up, you may have a sore throat or body ache. You are unable to eat, your immunity is low and it is a free run for viruses,” he said.

The threats in this season of transition include rhinovirus, coronavirus, adenovirus, enterovirus and metapneumovirus. These viruses spur upper respiratory tract infections, among other complications.

Sahu warned that children and elderly were more prone to diseases because of their low immunity. “An adult body can deal with the viruses, but if a child below eight years or a senior citizen is attacked, their lungs may be affected or their digestive system paralysed,” he explained.

Pragya Singh, a state health department entomologist, confirmed that the tricky weather had increased the risk of dengue, chikungunya, malaria and other vector-borne diseases. “The dengue virus is leading the race. The threats will subside only after complete onset of winter,” she said.

Records at Apollo hospitals in Ranchi show patients with allergic bronchitis and chronic cough and cold are thronging the OPD. “Every day, we are handling around 25-30 cases. The patients are from various age groups,” said medical superintendent P.D. Sinha. “Protect your chest while riding bikes or travelling in any open vehicle, don’t expose yourself to night or early morning wind and don’t eat anything but healthy and fresh,” he advised.

MGM Medical College and Hospital in Jamshedpur, on the other hand, is catering to an additional 100-200 patients every day since November 3.

MGM’s head of microbiology and in-charge of its vector lab A.C. Akhouri said temperature fluctuations and humidity were also favourable for both virus and bacteria growth.

“Keep your surroundings clean and use mosquito nets and repellents to avoid respiratory tract and gastrointestinal infections. Avoid eating refrigerated food, particularly bread and milk products on which bacteria thrive. Drink boiled water,” he advised.

A.K. Mahto, the head of medicine at RIMS, said even if one feels warm at night, it is still necessary to use a rug. “You cannot monitor or understand temperature changes while you sleep. The Celsius fluctuation can be detrimental to your health. Most importantly, protect yourself against mosquitoes,” he said.

The weather has been unusual in Jharkhand for most of the year. Monsoon arrived a little late and failed to bring much rain until the last lap when it went on an overdrive. Then came a period of pleasant weather with a hint of chill. The nip in the air disappeared soon and the Celsius was back on the upward curve until the rain came.

BAU professor A.K. Wadood said the weather was expected to stabilise by the end of this week, with the cyclonic effect growing weaker. “We can expect a clear sky after that followed by gradual dip in temperatures,” he said.

Weathermen at Patna Meteorological Office confirmed this observation.

Do you know of any grandma’s remedy against viral diseases?


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