With the rising temperature, city doctors are seeing an increase in the number of chickenpox cases.
Worse, patients who have had chickenpox once are returning with a relapse within weeks of getting “cured”.
Traditionally, patients who had chickenpox were known to develop lifetime immunity to the virus. But in the last two months, doctors have witnessed a second cycle of infection of chickenpox among patients.
“A patient developed new chickenpox boils in just two weeks after he was infected with the virus. The reason could be anything from heat, lack of nutrition or poor hygiene,” said Dr Om Shrivastav, unit head at Kasturba Hospital, the city’s sole hospital for communicable diseases. He admitted to seeing similar cases at Jaslok Hospital and Harkishandas Hospital where he is a consultant physician.
Abu Ali Sheikh, 18, was one such case. He was admitted to Kasturba Hospital in March with chickenpox.
“After he was cured, he had to be admitted again for the same illness in a month’s time. It was unheard of and thus we were worried,” said Sheikh’s brother Sohaib, 22.
Sohaib, a Jogeshwari resident, said several cases of chickenpox had been reported in his locality in the last two months.
His cousin brother Shiraz, 18, too was admitted to hospital with the disease.
“It looks like the virus is showing mutational changes and thus the illness that rarely reappeared in a patient is attacking again,” said Dr Gaurav Gupta, in-charge of the intensive care unit at Cumballa Hill.
He admitted seeing cases where a patient had a relapse. “But, the time difference in which patients are reinfected with chickenpox is more than months,” he added.
According to statistics provided by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), there have been more than 500 patients who had chickenpox in March. Sources at Kasturba Hospital said that chickenpox patients outnumbered those with other infectious diseases.
“Chickenpox is seen in high numbers in summer. However, the number isn’t alarming this year,” said Dr Dr Daksha Shah, head of the epidemiology cell of BMC.
Seeta Chourasia, who is eight months pregnant, was among the chickenpox patients at Kasturba Hospital. Doctors said that the disease could cause spontaneous abortion or lead to multiple malfunction of the baby.
“Her delivery date is nearing and we were refused admission at other hospitals,” said her husband, Ajay Chaurasia, an Antop Hill resident.