Sick Bay: Epidemic of viral infections in city
Thane sees three swine flu deaths in July, state government mulls the decision to slash swine flu test rates
Mumbai: The city is in the grips of a sever bout of illness this monsoon. While Covid cases have started to wane, there has been a major uptick in swine flu cases as well as other viral infections. In July, Mumbai has seen 62 lab-confirmed swine flu cases, up from just two in June, while neighbouring Thane district has seen 34 cases this month, with three deaths. In June, two cases of swine flu were reported in Mumbai.
With the rise in cases, state health department officials said there are plans to slash the swine flu test rates, which presently stand at ₹2,500- ₹3,000.
“We are considering slashing the cost of swine flu test and also bringing a cap to it, similar to what we did for RT-PCR tests for Covid,” said a state health official.
Around 1.17 lakh tests have been conducted on suspected cases across Thane district.
Thane Civil hospital has created a 20 bed ward for swine flu patients. “The situation seems to be in control as of now and everyone needs to maintain basic precautions,” said Kailash Pawar, Civil Surgeon Thane Civil hospital.
A doctor from the Covid-19 task force said that while the cases of swine flu have luckily not been very severe, it is still important to detect it on time for high-risk patients and those with co-morbidities.
Dr Shekhar Shirvaikar, a family physician from Goregaon, said, “It costs around ₹2,500 for the swine flu throat swab. For those who are not undergoing the test, we are clinically diagnosing with upper respiratory tract infection and high fever. The fever subsides as soon as we start the anti-viral (Oseltamivir),” he said.
RISE IN VIRAL INFECTIONS
And it’s not just swine flu. Physicians in the city have been swamped with viral cases, with many having to work extended hours in their clinic. Dr Jimi Desai, a family physician from Borivali, said, “I am seeing 80-100 patients a day and all are viral cases. There are some chicken pox and hand, foot and mouth disease cases along with swine flu cases and flu cases in children. Illnesses are not serious as they are fine within 4-5 days.”
Dr Hemlata Arora, internal medicine and infectious diseases consultant, Nanavati Max, said the city is seeing a flu epidemic. “Of all the cases we see in the OPD, 50-60% of them are flu cases, 10-15% are Covid-19 and the remaining are common cold and other viral illnesses,” she said. Dr Arora explained that unmasking coinciding with the monsoon has led to the spike in cases. “We became more complacent as all the restrictions were lifted. Many have not taken their flu shot. Normally, in Mumbai, we see a flu wave in monsoon and in the winter. In monsoon, we see more flu cases compared to winter because Mumbai winters are not severe. This time, the monsoon season coincided with unmasking and thus we are seeing the rise in diseases,” she said.
Dr Pratit Samdani, internal medicine specialist, Breach Candy Hospital said there are a bouquet of viral infections that they are seeing every day in the OPD. “We are seeing viral gastroenteritis because of rota virus, respiratory tract infections because of influenza viruses, and dengue too. We are seeing more than ten viral infections a day and across age groups,” he said.