CHENNAI: A flood of new diseases including flu, stomach and respiratory infections and viral conjunctivitis have lengthened the queues outside doctors’ clinics across the city over the last three days. Some people, particularly the elderly and children, require in-patient care, doctors said.
Besides private hospitals, fever clinics organized by the Greater Chennai Corporation have also seen a spike in water-borne illness diarrhoea cases over the last two weeks, officials said. While some patients are reporting flu-like symptoms including fever, cough and body pain, others with diarrhoea and acute gastritis symptoms, and some others have severe upper respiratory tract infections. “Such infections are expected after heavy rain. And this is the fever season for the city,” said city health officer Dr M Jagadeesan.
The civic agency did not release data on the number of fever cases, but said most patients were being treated as outpatients. “Doctors prescribe medicine and counsel them to drink boiled water,” he said.
While most fever cases are self-limiting, patients must be more careful when they have stomach flu or diarrhoea. Neighbourhood hospitals said they are receiving complaints about clusters in apartment blocks from Alwarpet, Mylapore and KK Nagar. Experts say these could be cases of acute gastroenteritis or cholera. “With several neighboring states reporting norovirus cases, we may have to keep extreme vigil,” infectious diseases expert Dr Subramanian Swaminathan from the Gleneagles Global Hospitals.
When people with norovirus have bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. The highly infectious disease can infect anyone if they have direct contact with an infected person or have contaminated food or water, doctors say. Touching contaminated surfaces can also increase risk of infection. Like in the case of most diarrheal disorders, most people are recommended to drink lots of fluids, some people who are dehydrated may require IV fluids.
Ophthalmologists are also reporting an increase in viral conjunctivitis. “It causes redness and irritation of the eye like the regular conjunctivitis but symptoms for this last for at least 10 days,” said senior ophthalmologist Dr S Soundari.
Public health department has asked district health authorities across the state to intensify medical camps in water-logged areas to prevent waterborne diseases.