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28 Dec 2016

Diseases make a December comeback

TT, Dec. 27: Sayan Banerjee, 16, had been looking forward to a Christmas lunch with his parents at their favourite restaurant but ended up spending the day nursing a sore throat and fever.
A family physician prescribed a course of antibiotics for Sayan, telling his parents "not to take chances" since many of his patients with similar symptoms had been laid low by viral fever for four to five days.
Warmer than normal weather in late December is being blamed for the resurgence of illnesses typical of the period between late October and mid-November, when the season is in transition. From dengue to viral infections of the upper and lower respiratory tracts, there has been a sudden spurt of health problems.
"During the change of seasons in October-November and again around March, people suffer from upper and lower respiratory tract infections caused by viruses that thrive in temperate climate. These viruses become less active in winter. They have remained active this season because of the warmer-than-usual weather," Pallab Ray, professor of microbiology at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research in Chandigarh, told Metro. "Temperature fluctuations make the upper and lower respiratory tracts susceptible to viral attacks," he said.
The minimum temperature has fluctuated over the past 12 days, soaring to 17.8 degrees Celsius today. This is four degrees above normal for this time of the year.
On December 16, the mercury had dipped to 12.7 degrees Celsius, two degrees below normal, only to rise to 15.6 degrees, two degrees above normal, the next day. The temperature dropped again over the next two days before reversing the direction. Christmas Day was the second warmest in a decade.
Warm weather has kept alive the threat of dengue, which is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Dengue is otherwise rare in December.
"Two dengue patients are under my care. Both were hospitalised last week....can't recall the last time I had a dengue patient at this time of the year," said Syamasis Bandyopadhyay, senior internal medicine consultant at Apollo Gleneagles.
ENT specialist Arunabha Sengupta said many of his patients had larynx and pharynx infections, accompanied by fever and cough. Some doctors are treating patients with fungal infection in the lungs, a condition associated with hot and humid weather.

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