LUDHIANA: There has been a phenomenal increase in the number of people infected by influenza in Ludhiana in the past two months, with experts suspecting a direct correlation with post-Covid altered immunity and non-adoption of flu vaccines. The doctors have cautioned against indiscriminate use of antibiotics and self-medication to treat flu.
"There has been substantial rise in the number of influenza cases in the past more than two months. As compared to earlier seasons in pre-Covid times, there is roughly around 10-15% hike in flu cases this time. Foremost reason is 'immunity modulation' as immunity has decreased due to lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle.
Notably, we were indoors for two years and had been wearing masks and the environment was clean too. So now the body is getting exposed to allergens and viruses when we are moving on a daily basis," said Dr Amanpreet Kaur of department of medicine at civil hospital
He said around 50-60 such cases are reported each day in peak flu season. "As virus has changed shape, there has been substantial increase in influenza cases because of immunity modulation. With the increase in social functions, people are exposed to virus illnesses at crowded functions." She said mask is very important in the battle against every flu and influenza.
It was the best habit people have acquired during Covid times and they should continue with it especially those with low immunity having underlying diseases like diabetes, renal, cardiac and respiratory problems," he said. Experts said though viral illnesses have increased, testing can ascertain the type of virus causing an increase in such illnesses.
"It is true that slightly more cases of acute viral illnesses are surfacing these days, which could be due to any factor, including influenza, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus and some form of Covid. Till we have epidemiological studies, we can label it as acute viral illness.
At our level, there has been 10-15% increase. But it is difficult to say how much it is at community level. In 90-95% cases, such viral illnesses are mild or moderate whereas in around 10% cases there will be severe illness who will come to hospitals," said Dr Akashdeep Singh, professor of pulmonary medicines at DMCH.
He said common symptoms of such viral illness, included fever (up to 101°F), shortness of breath and prolonged cough which can last for more than 10 days.
The experts advised that without getting evaluated, patients shouldn't indulge in self-medication and patients should seek expert help. "We are getting patients with influenza. There have been hospitalisations due to severe viral infection as well," said Dr Clarence Samuel, epidemiologist and vice-principal at CMCH.

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