KOLKATA: The fluctuating temperature triggered by a cloud cover that has persisted for nearly a week in Kolkata, interspersed with occasional showers, have led to a spread of fever, cough-and-cold, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Hundreds across the city have been down with high fever, that has often been persisting for a week, along with cold, said doctors. The weather has yet again unleashed respiratory viruses, like adenovirus, rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus, that spread easily and fast, said doctors.
The typical symptoms this time have been a sudden spell of high fever - with temperatures soaring to 103°F-104°F - and a bout of cold. For a section of the elderly and children, the cough is proving to be severe, especially for asthma and COPD patients, many of whom have been suffering from breathing distress.
"The high fever has been a cause for concern since it has been lasting for almost a week. Coupled with the cold, it has left many very weak and on the verge of hospitalization. In many cases, we are being forced to prescribe antibiotics to those who have had a high temperature for more than five days along with severe cough," said Fortis Hospital Anandapur internal medicine consultant Joydeep Ghosh.
The mercury has been on a roller-coaster ride over the last 10 days, during which, it had touched 35°C before tumbling to 30°C, and then jumping back to 33°C on Wednesday. "This constant fluctuation, coupled with high humidity, are ideal conditions for viruses to regenerate and thrive. Adenovirus remains active and rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus, too, are triggering upper respiratory tract infections, especially in those with low or compromised immunity. Children and the elderly are being affected frequently. The only difference this time has been the high, persistent fever," said RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) intensivist Sauren Panja.
"A sudden temperature change causes a protective mucosal breach, helping viruses like RSV, adeno and influenza to gain access into the body, which is manifested by cough and cold," said Dipankar Sarkar, consultant, internal medicine & critical care, Manipal Hospitals.
There could also be new viruses in circulation that are leading to changed symptoms, like high fever. The weather is just one aspect," said CMRI Hospital internal medicine consultant Suman Mitra.
Children should be kept away from all outdoor activities, since sweating could accentuate the effects of fluctuating temperature, according to paediatrician Santanu Ray. "Many have been struck by an unusually high fever, often leading to unconsciousness, nausea and convulsions. The cough has been severe in some cases, making them suffer from breathing distress," Ray said.
"Keep yourself dry and warm this monsoon. Don't forget to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Dengue and malaria are lurking around the corner," advised ILS Hospital consultant Sarbajit Ray.

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