A large number of Calcuttans are down with fever and cough that doctors attributed to the play of viruses as the season changes and to people’s exposure to frequent temperature fluctuations.
The symptoms — fever, stuffiness in the nose, mild cough, body ache, sore throat — are self-limiting.
Despite the rain, the outdoors are still warm and very moisture-laden, while indoor temperatures are much lower and the setting dry because most people are still running their air-conditioners.
The activity of viruses increases during the change of seasons and the consequent change in temperatures.
The immunity of humans to resist viral attacks, too, declines if there are frequent fluctuations in temperatures. These two factors contribute to the high rate of infections during a season change, said doctors.
Those prone to allergies have to be extra careful as the possibility of them getting infected is higher. “They may not have fever but a stuffy nose or mucous in the throat could be very common for them,” said a doctor.
Chandramouli Bhattacharya, infectious diseases specialist at Peerless Hospital, said most of these ailments were self-limiting. “The most common symptoms are fever for two or three days and body ache. Some people are complaining about stuffiness in the nose and a mild cough. There is nothing to worry as this is a self-limiting infection in most people,” he said.
Rahul Jain, an internal medicine specialist at Belle Vue Clinic, said the frequent movement between an AC room and warmer outdoors does not allow the body to do the necessary thermo-regulation.
“I would advise people to ensure that the difference in the indoor and outdoor temperatures is not very wide,” he said.
The infections are staying restricted to the upper respiratory tract and not impacting the lungs, which is why doctors are not raising a red flag yet.
A paediatrician said many children were coming with red eyes. He suspected that they were catching the infection at a crowded public place.
A doctor at a clinic run by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) said nearly 30 per cent of all patients coming daily had symptoms like fever, cold and cough. The CMC’s clinics are visited by a large number of people from the low-income group.
In some children, however, the fever and other associated symptoms are persisting for a longer period. But even in children, the infections have been self-limiting so far.
Paediatrician Apurba Ghosh said the most common symptoms in these children were fever and red eyes. Some of them were vomiting blood or blood was oozing from their nose. The red eyes stayed for eight to ten days. “We are advising rest. They must also drink plenty of fluids to remain well hydrated,” he said.
While enquiring how they got infected, Ghosh said he found that many of the children went to swimming classes and he suspected they may have caught the infection there.
“Do not send your children to crowded places where many kids will be present if they have even a mild fever,” said paediatrician Prabhas Prasun Giri.