Delhi is gripped by fever and gastroenteritis. In fact, it's almost taken on epidemic-like proportions, with city hospitals reporting a 30-40% increase in the number of patients suffering from microbial infections.
Doctors warn there's going to be a sharp increase in deadly diseases like hepatitis E, meningitis, typhoid and malaria. Since wet weather is conducive for most microbes, those transmitted by oro-nasal routes and through people-to-people contact usually have a field day in the rainy season.
Already, children in particular have been suffering from a spate of cross-infections since schools reopened about a month ago. Dr Sanjiv Bagai, head of paediatrics at Rockland Hospital, says: "There has been a three-fourfold increase in number of cases of viral infections among kids, right from neonates to adolescents. Primary symptoms are fever, loose motion, cough, rash, acute sore throat and vomiting. None of these symptoms should be neglected, but the tendency to jump into an antibiotics course without qualified medical advice has to be overcome."
While he usually treats 8-10 viral patients a day, Bagai says the number has now soared to 30-35 a day. The number of admissions of viral cases too has doubled, from around 25 a month to about 45-50.
Says Dr Vikas Malhotra, head of ENT at Swami Dayanand Hospital: "We usually get 10-12 patients of viral infections per day. Now it is above 15." Besides, many viral cases land up in other departments, like medicine.
The public transport system, says Malhotra, is a hotbed of infections, especially for people who have just recovered from a viral problem. "Such patients, even after they have seemingly recovered, are susceptible to air-borne pathogens because the virus attacks the protective cells of the nasal mucosa, causing them to become easy routes of entry for subsequent infectants. Infections can be reduced by adding intake of fruits rich in vitamins C and A."
Doctors say its vital to watch out for water-borne diseases. Dr Nirmal Kumar, former professor of G B Pant Hospital and head of the department of gastroenterology at Action Medical Institute, adds: "Now that the rains seem to be back, Delhi will do well to take lessons from Mumbai's predicament. Cases of hepatitis E are at an all-time high. In a congested city like Delhi, where sanitation facilities are often lacking, this may spiral into something bigger unless people are careful."