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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Don’t Let The Rain Be A Pain A Little Care, Caution & Lots Of Fluids Can Keep A Multitude Of The Season’s Infections At Bay

Aquiet drizzle or pelting rain, the monsoon's magic can evaporate with the first sneeze. The flip side of the season is the battle against infection. A spurt in cases of bacterial and viral infections hits cities across the country—and children and young people are the most likely to be affected. A 2010 study by AIIMS, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and Pune's National Institute of Virology, found that the flu or influenza-like illnesses (ILI) peak during monsoon. 

    Aggravated by poor civic infrastructure, the aam admi lives at the mercy of diseases the rains bring. Can nothing be done? Topping the list of do-it-yourself is personal hygiene, say doctors. Avoiding "risky" food and water come a close second. "Most diseases pass on through contaminated food and water. Though self-limiting and treatable, they may turn fatal in extreme cases," says gastroenterologist Dr A S Puri at G B Pant hospital in Delhi. "Simple things like washing hands before eating, drinking filtered water, eating fresh food and getting vaccinated against diseases like typhoid and flu can help keep us healthy," he adds. Antiseptic liquids help prevent infections and diseases. 
    Keeping your surroundings clean is equally important. "Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that cause malaria and dengue," reiterates Dr M P Sharma, head of internal medicine at a private hospital. Chest specialist Dr Arup Basu says infectious diseases of the respiratory tract are most common in this period. "These infections are usually transmitted by droplets or by direct contact 
with objects contaminated with secretions of infected people." 
    Asthma patients and those suffering from lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) must keep medicines handy. "If symptoms continue, one must consult a doctor immediately," says Basu. 

    The ILI list of diseases includes H1N1 or swine flu, that has already claimed 57 lives mostly in Maharashtra, this year. Number of cases is expected to rise. But Dr Sarman Singh, professor of microbiology at AIIMS, says the H1N1 virus does not pose a serious threat anymore. 
    "In 2009, when H1N1 cases were reported for the first time, we had no medicine or practical experience. Now we have vaccines needed to treat and prevent the disease," he says. Frequent hand-washing and avoiding crowded places can help one avoid the infection. The standard treatment for H1N1 is Tamiflu, to be taken only on prescription. 
    The data collected in the AIIMS study showed that the age groups of 5-18 and 18-25 were most prone to influenza. This could be due to "high exposure rates" among the young. School kids have the highest rate of contact, and appear to be most vulnerable to the pandemic, the study said. 
    Pink eyes or conjunctivitis is also a common problem in this season. Ophthalmologist Dr Sanjay Choudhary says the virus spreads via currency notes the most and washing one's hands frequently may help keep it at bay.


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