Even as the Capital sweltered under severe heat conditions, city doctors cautioned about the downside of quick weather changes. Sudden change in temperature and humidity, doctors say, can be dangerous as the weather is conducive for mosquito breeding and other vector-borne diseases (diseases that spread through breeding of mosquitoes or other insects) to spread. Incidents of cholera, typhoid, jaundice and gastric problems also shoot up during this time of the year.
“This is the time when mosquito breeding starts, so dengue, malaria and other vector-borne diseases make a comeback. Precautions must be taken to stop active breeding,” says Dr Bir Singh, professor community medicine, AIIMS.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi so far has reported two cases of malaria, but the number is likely to increase with rise in temperature. “We are taking all precautions to control mosquito breeding. Anti-larval medicines are being sprayed in vulnerable spots. We will intensify the drive from April end,” said Dr N K Yadav, medical health officer, MCD.
According to Dr Sanjeev Bagai, head of the department of paediatrics and director, Rockland Hospital, “One should see a doctor if there is headache, vomiting and high-grade fever which persists for more than 24 hours. Extra precaution should be taken in case of children. The bacteria’s incubation period is very short, sometimes just a few hours.”
Meningococcal disease, also referred to as cerebro-spinal meningitis, is a contagious bacterial disease caused by the meningococcus bacteria (Neisseria Meningitidis). It is spread by person-to-person contact through respiratory droplets of infected people. The bacteria attack the meninges (outer cover) of the brain, and infected persons should be treated at hospitals or under medical supervision.
Doctors also advise drinking a lot of water in order to prevent dehydration. However, water from the roadside and any drink that has commercial ice is to be strictly avoided. “We don’t know the source of water that is used in commercial ice. It could lead to diseases like cholera and jaundice. Food and water-borne infections are very common during summers,” informs Dr Bir Singh.
Freshly cooked food is also to be preferred over uncooked options, since gastro-intestinal problems become rampant. “We see a lot of cases of food poisoning, dysentery and other gastric problems during the beginning of summers. The food doesn’t remain sterile for long if not refrigerated in time,” says Dr Bagai. Dairy products should be consumed within days of buying.
Fruit chats, juices and shakes from roadside vendors are also to be avoided. “Maximum cases of gastroenteritis are cause by roadside food. Cut fruits, raw vegetables and chats should not be eaten, as one doesn’t know the method of preparation or how long the fruits and vegetables have been exposed in the heat,” said Dr G C Vaishnava, head of the department internal medicine, Fortis Healthc
Overall, doctors advise taking timely precautions. Children should be vaccinated for typhoid, meningitis, chicken pox and Hepatitis A. One should also drink a lot of water and other fluids. “Dehydration is common and people often faint because of it. Maintaining the body’s water level is essential. During winter our water intake goes down, but one has to make a conscious effort to drink a lot of water,” said Dr Vaishnava.