Children run to escape smoke from a fumigator during a drive to check the spread of malaria and dengue fever in New Delhi.
Sudden and heavy showers followed by periods of intense sunshine — this is usually the weather that the city deals with in late September-early October. The monsoon is on its way out and winter hasn’t really settled in, and this is the period when infections literally go viral. While vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue, are on the rise, with over 400 malaria and 74 dengue cases reported in the city till September 18 alone, Mumbaikars are also battling minor seasonal illnesses such as fever, flu, runny noses and nausea.
“Dengue is caused by the bite of the Aedes mosquito,” says Dr Nisha Shetty, a general physician in the city, adding, “It is transmitted from person to person with the mosquito as the carrier. So, if you have cases of dengue in your area, make sure you report it to the authorities.”
Malaria spreads in a similar way, but the symptoms are milder than what you would find with dengue fever. “These diseases are most common just after the rainy season, as this period coincides with the mosquito’s breeding cycle,” says Shetty. Common symptoms of dengue are fever, headache, nausea, joint pain and body rash, while for malaria complaints range from chills, excessive sweating to jaundice, convulsions and nausea.
“Secondary infections come with dengue, and the immune system comes into play,” says clinical nutritionist, Ishi Khosla. “We’ve started consuming a lot of unhealthy foods, such as refined flour, sugars and bad fats, which deplete immunity.” Khosla suggests including immunity-boosting foods such as raw vegetables and fruits, nuts like almonds, seeds such as flaxseeds and sunflower and probiotic foods, like yogurt, in your diet. “The rule is to mix a variety of coloured veggies. Try getting five servings of these a day,” she
suggests. However, there is no reason to panic. If there are reports of neighbours getting diagnosed with malaria or dengue, get a blood test as soon as you show any of the symptoms.
“The best precaution, however, is to avoid getting bitten,” says Shetty. She recommends sleeping in mosquito nets, using repellent lotions and wearing long-sleeved clothes. Installing window screens and getting rid of accumulated water, such as in flower pots, puddles and other catchment areas are also good ways to keep mosquitoes out. Travellers can check endemic areas on the Oxford University’s Malaria Atlas Project (Map), which has maps of regions that are most prone to the disease. Before travelling to endemic areas, make sure you have enough antimalarial medicine and are carrying enough repellent.
If you’ve already beat dengue, consider these tips to get healthy soon
Get plenty of bed rest
Replenish the lost fluids by drinking a lot of water
Keep your temperature in check by using cold presses and water baths
If you’ve had it, here’s how to recover quickly
Antimalarial drugs leave you dehydrated, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids
Consume easy-to-digest foods. Idlis and dosas are a great bet, to reduce the stress on your kidneys, liver and spleen
Put back the iron in your body by eating spinach, fish, whole grains and poultry