Higher heat index, temp led to rise in heatstroke cases in Maha
This year, the state recorded 264 suspected heat stroke cases in March; followed by 985 suspected cases in April; and 940 cases in May
In 2023, the state has seen a threefold increase in the number of heat stroke cases with 2,189 suspected heat stroke cases recorded this year as compared to 767 last year (2022). This, despite many parts of Maharashtra witnessing rain for the most of April and the first week of May. According to officials, the surge in heatstroke cases is due to the high(er) heat index along with high(er) temperatures in several districts of the state. The heat index, also known as apparent temperature, is what the temperature feels like to the human body when the relative humidity is combined with air temperature. Higher the relative humidity, the higher the heat index and the hotter the outside feels to our bodies.
This year, the state recorded 264 suspected heat stroke cases in March; followed by 985 suspected cases in April; and 940 cases in May. Raigad recorded the highest number of suspected heat stroke cases (410); followed by Wardha district (254); and Nagpur (165). Twelve heat stroke deaths were reported in Raigad district alone as compared to 31 heat stroke deaths in the whole of Maharashtra last year. All 12 deaths in Raigad district were reported in the month of March.
Heat stroke is a serious heat-related emergency which occurs when the body is unable to control its internal temperature due to exposure to heat. A patient is said to have suffered a heat stroke if he/she has an elevated body temperature of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit and an altered mental status including disorientation, delirium and seizure.
According to officials, the past couple of months have been unbearable for many as humidity levels have soared along with soaring temperatures. This year’s high heat index has been a contributing factor for the surge in heat stroke cases in the state. While intense heatwaves can cause dehydration, heat stroke, skin issues and heart-related illnesses; high humidity can accelerate the impact of heat on the body by precipitating fainting, heat strokes, heart attacks and mood disorders. This happens because the body finds it difficult to cool off when the moisture stays on the skin for too long.
Dr Kailas Baviskar, deputy director of health services, said, “This year, the higher number of heat stroke cases reported are due to weather conditions that have been seen to be worse compared to last summer. Like every year, we will be monitoring heat stroke cases in Maharashtra from March 1 to July 31. The daily monitoring is carried out along with preventive measures for heat-related disorders. All districts and municipalities have been asked to provide information on heat stroke.”
According to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) officials, most parts of the state faced a harsh summer season with above normal temperatures. At least 10 districts in Maharashtra recorded maximum day temperatures upwards of 40 degrees Celsius mid-April. The minimum temperatures, too, were above normal in the state with significantly higher heatwave-like conditions seen during April and May this year. Maharashtra is expected to be one of the states to witness the maximum number of heatwaves between April and June this year, according to the IMD.