This year, seasonal viruses have infected one in three people in the Capital, thinning attendance in classrooms and offices. People are crowding clinics with runny noses, sore throats, upper respiratory tract infections and fever caused by rhinoviruses, influenza viruses and rotaviruses.
Children and people above 65 years are the worst hit. “Apart from students, I am getting a significant number of calls from teachers these days, requesting leave due to viral fever,” said Lata Vaidyanathan, principal, Modern School, Barakhamba Road.So potent is the attack this season that even healthy adults have been left sniffling.
“On an average, we have recorded a 10% jump in the number of sick leave applications over the past two weeks due to viral infections. More numbers are reported from the sales division, as these people are on the move most of the time,” said Neha Bhatnagar, manager, corporate HR, Getit Info Services (P) Ltd.
“Last week we had an unusually large number of people calling in sick. There must have been a rise in about 20% calls, though it’s hard to tell whether it’s specifically due to viral or some other reason,” said an HR executive from HCL Technologies, requesting anonymity.
Most people are complaining of a cold, cough, sore throat and a temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
“An influenza vaccine, which costs about R500, taken once a year can protect you from infection. It is recommended for people over 65 years and those with compromised immunity, like people recovering from an illness, asthmatics, pregnant women, young children, diabetics and people on steroid medication,” said Dr Rommel Tickoo, senior consultant, department of internal medicine, Max Hospital.
Since viral infections are highly contagious and spread through droplets expelled while coughing or sneezing, doctors advise patients to avoid direct contact with others and take precautions like covering their mouths while coughing and sneezing. “Washing your hands is another effective way. Otherwise, hand sanitisers are a good alternative,” said a senior doctor at Aiims. In hospitals, everyone in the infectious disease department has been asked to wear masks and use hand sanitisers to avoid getting infected.
Since all viral infections start with a cold and cough followed by fever, all you need to do is to take medicines to treat the symptoms and wait for them to subside, which takes about five days to a week. If there is no cough and high fever persists for more than 48 hours, you should visit a doctor who may advise tests to rule out dengue, chikungunya, malaria or typhoid.
“Such an infection could be a mosquito-borne or water-borne disease. So you must visit a doctor on the third day if the fever persists,” added Dr Tickoo.