Arthritis is a disease that afflicts adults, but this season, 5 to 15-year-olds in the city are also falling ill with post-viral arthritis, which affects the tender, developing joints in their body. Paediatricians concur.
Since September, there has been a sharp rise in the number of children developing high viral fever along with severe joint pain, Dr Jagadish Chinnappa, consultant paediatrician, Manipal Hospitals, said.
“Children are typically presenting high fever and pain in the joints, but there is no swelling in the joints. We are giving them symptomatic treatment,” he said.
Terming the arthritis ‘transient’, Dr Chinnappa said that despite advice to get children checked for chikungunya and dengue, parents are not taking it seriously.
“Chikungunya is associated with such fever and severe joint pain and dengue starts with muscle pain too. So, it is better parents get their children examined for that. But most of them just seek symptomatic treatment for the fever and joint ache and leave,” he said.
Meanwhile, even adults are increasingly falling sick with post-viral arthritis, which gives them disabling joint pains lasting several months after the fever has subsided.
Dr Ramesh Narayana Jois, consultant rheumatologist, Fortis Hospitals, said he is treating at least five patients a day who come in with swollen feet, stiff joints in their hands and legs and shoulders along with fever lasting 24 to 48 hours. He said the spurt in the number of cases occurs each year between July and September.
“Last year, there were at least two cases each day, but this year we have seen at least four. The pain gets greater with age and duration of the fever and arthritis is much lesser in children. Sometimes, patients find it hard to move their fingers and hands and are also unable to walk,” Dr Ramesh Narayana Jois, consultant rheumatologist, Fortis Hospitals said.
While doctors are unable to conclude the reasons behind the fever, they suspect that primary reasons are sporadic rainfall, mosquitoes and viruses circulating due to existing weather conditions.
Dr Jois added, “It could be a variant of the virus causing chikungunya as the 2006 outbreak of the disease happened during the same months.” He said that typically the patient also suffers from a drop in White Blood Cell (WBC) and platelet count. Similar trends were observed across other hospitals in the city. Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, managing director, Manipal Hospitals, said that the condition was due to an ‘unspecified’ virus which, in all likelihood, is mosquito-borne. “The disease pattern is exactly the same as any mosquito-borne disease. But patients are testing negative for both dengue and chikungunya,” he explained. However, Dr Ballal advised that people protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes and said that breeding sites must be checked.
Anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids and pain-killers are being used to treat patients. Meanwhile, doctors from government hospitals said that there is no unusual phenomenon of post-viral arthritis in the city among children or adults.