When 19-year-old Anant Sharma’s kidneys failed, doctors took a while to diagnose it was caused by typhoid. “I had to undergo dialysis and was in the ICU for a week because of continuous fever and headaches,” said Sharma, a resident of Andheri who did not know he had typhoid until he was hospitalised.
City doctors said they are seeing cases where typhoid and paratyphoid (a milder form) infections are causing medical complications, unusual for summer. “Usually we see typhoid cases in the monsoon... But since last summer, we are seeing patients suffering from typhoid in April and May, after which the cases gradually increase,” said Dr Alan Soares, physician, Holy Spirit Hospital, Andheri. Dr Soares recently attended to three patients who needed to be hospitalised as the disease had led to serious complications.
Sharma’s physician Dr Pratit Samdani, said, “We are seeing a rise in patients with paratyphoid, which is similar to typhoid infection. He [Sharma] had developed respiratory failure as a result of the typhoid infection.”
Typhoid and paratyphoid are waterborne diseases caused by bacteria in the excreta of an infected person. Though medical literature suggests paratyphoid is a milder infection, city doctors are seeing paratyphoid patients with severe complications.
Dr Om Shrivastav, infectious diseases specialist, Jaslok Hospital, said patients are also taking longer to treat. “Three of my patients with typhoid needed hospitalisation. There is a change in the pattern of the bacteria,” said Dr Shrivastav.
Doctors blamed the rise in cases on water contamination across the city, as their patients were not from any specific area. A greater number of people between the ages of 18 and 40 have tested positive for the typhoid bacteria.
“Unlike in the past, when patients would be free of the diseases after five days of intravenous medicine, now we have to treat them for seven to eight days, and even more in few cases,” said Dr Hemant Thacker, physician, Breach Candy Hospital. “Patients are not responding to traditional medicines indicating that the bacteria have become more virulent in nature.”