BENGALURU: An uptick in influenza cases is stirring concern among doctors, who say that compared to last year, the number of cases is high. Hospitals had not reported influenza cases during the first wave of the pandemic. Influenza is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system of the person -- the nose, throat and lungs. Some hospitals have seen a 20 per cent increase in influenza cases.
Dr Vivek Anand Padegal, Director - Pulmonology, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, pointed out that he had seen only one patient with influenza in hospital last year, but has seen a spike in the past six weeks.
“Since the Covid outbreak, this is the first time we are seeing many cases of influenza. Last year, many places across the country did not see influenza cases. The reasons for increase in cases can be attributed to people not being careful about hand sanitisation and masking, which keeps away all viral infections -- influenza, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, besides corona. Weather change is another possibility.”
“Every year, two vaccines are released by the World Health Organisation, one is a Southern hemisphere vaccine given between March and September, and the other is a Northern Hemisphere vaccine, given between September and February. These vaccines have not been released this year, which could have led to the increase.”
The number of influenza cases has increased even at Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases.
“We have seen 10-15% increase in cases in our hospital, and noticed many children getting infected with influenza, which is called para influenza. Another reason is that respiratory syncytial virus cases are increasing and contagious virus is causing infection of the respiratory tract. Most Covid patients show signs of influenza like illness, however, many are testing negative but there is always a risk. So we are advising patients not to go out frequently during this weather,” said Dr C Nagaraj, RGICD Director.
Dr Ranjit Mohan, Consultant - Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Manipal Hospitals, pointed out that relaxation of travel restrictions, reopening of educational institutions and social gatherings are factors contributing to the increase. “Patients with mild infection are advised rest and given adequate hydration, pyretics and medication for upper respiratory symptoms. Antiviral agents such as Oseltamivir and Zamanavir are also used. Severe cases with pneumonia, while respiratory failure and sepsis may require mechanical ventilation and critical care,” he said.
Dr Srivatsa Lokeshwaran, Consultant - Interventional Pulmonology, & Transplant Physician at Aster CMI Hospital, pointed out that the trend has been noticed for one-and-a-half months. “Children below 5 years and those above 65 years are more prone to the infection.”