Spike in viral flu cases in Hyderabad; docs recommend flu shots, proper hygiene

Key symptoms of flu include fever, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, wheezing, chest congestion, body pains, lethargy, and difficulty in breathing.

By Anoushka Caroline Williams  Published on  9 July 2024 1:55 AM GMT
Spike in viral flu cases in Hyderabad; docs recommend flu shots, proper hygiene

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Hyderabad: Hyderabad hospitals have reported receiving 600 to 800 cases of viral flu or seasonal flu per day over the last week.

This is due to an increase in complaints of fevers and colds that have not subsided for over 10 days. The public has been wondering if these are cases of seasonal flu, influenza or other viral infections.

According to doctors, immunologists, and public health specialists, the surge in infections over the past week suggests the possibility of an unknown viral infection circulating in the community.

Potential for severe respiratory infections

There is concern among healthcare providers that the current rise in viral infections could lead to a wave of upper respiratory infections, including severe pneumonia.

Last year, Hyderabad experienced a similar surge in influenza A (H1N1) and A (H3N2) cases, as confirmed by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) surveillance data.

General Physician Dr Somnath Kumar from Yashoda Hospitals explained, “During summer, we typically see cases of water-borne diseases and gastroenteritis. But we are also getting infections like chickenpox, diphtheria, and measles. Most are outpatient cases requiring symptomatic support.”

“In some cases, these infections are progressing to the upper and lower respiratory tracts, affecting the lungs. This has led to increased use of the antiviral drug Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), indicating that some patients, particularly those with comorbid conditions, are experiencing severe symptoms,” he added.

Doctors’ observations

Dr Geeta Devi, a senior immunologist from Hyderabad, noted, “We are witnessing extreme flare-ups of infections in the last ten days. Due to immunological changes during the Covid-19 pandemic, even a simple flu is now intensifying into upper and lower respiratory tract infections. I hope this rise does not lead to a major surge in pneumonia or viral infections.”

However, Dr MV Rao reported, “At present, we see a few cases of seasonal flu, which is normal due to weather changes, and sporadic cases of dengue. So far, there is no trend indicating a major flare-up of pneumonia-like cases. It is always better to take precautions by leading a healthy and active life.”

Government advisory

The government has issued an advisory for individuals with flu-like symptoms—such as cough with fever, headache, sore throat, body pains, or conjunctivitis—to visit nearby health facilities if symptoms persist for more than three days.

Key symptoms of flu include fever, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, wheezing, chest congestion, body pains, lethargy, and difficulty in breathing.

Prevention tips

To prevent viral infections, the government recommends:

- Avoid shaking hands and sharing food, water, or clothes with sick individuals.

- Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitisers.

- Minimise contact with commonly touched surfaces like door handles, table tops, and railings.

- Cover your mouth while sneezing or coughing.

- Use disposable tissues and discard them after use.

- Call 108 ambulance services in case of a health emergency.

Doctors recommend flu shot vaccine

Dr MV Rao advised caution for vulnerable groups, stating, “Young children, elderly patients, those with heart or kidney problems, transplant recipients, asthma patients, and pregnant women should be monitored carefully. Pregnant women with swine flu might face severe complications, including miscarriages and deaths.”

Dr Ashish Shankar, general physician at Apollo Healthcare emphasised the importance of flu vaccinations, saying, “The flu shot vaccine is available and should be taken once a year. While all vaccines might have mild side effects, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Avoid handshakes, frequently wash hands, and avoid touching your face.”

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