Thursday, 14 July 2016

Upsurge in Flu Cases Due To Monsoon

The onset of monsoon has come as a breather after scorching temperatures but the spate of showers bring along another problem-FLU. The best way to deal with uncalled guest is to be more attentive towards safety and hygiene.

When Sneha went down with 103 degree temperature accompanied with pains and aches and other symptoms all those who came to visit her were unanimous about the cause of her illness, “change in weather,” they said. The doctor to whom she was taken to reiterated “flu due to weather change. The onset of monsoon brings such fevers.”

Temperature change-a perfect hub for viruses

James Tamerius, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University studied the relation between climate and viral responses. His research reveals an apparent connection between temperature and infection rate. In tropics the flu season coincides with monsoon says his study and this indicates the role of precipitation and humidity in the transmission of the virus.

Then, quickly alternating cool and warm days or a sudden spate of shower can make people sick-really? Probably Sneha picked up the infection from someone recovering from fever or sore throat.
Says Dr Imranuddin, Consultant, Internal Medicine, “Change in weather in activating the otherwise dormant influenza viruses. These viral fevers are communicable and but can result in pneumonia and become life threatening as well.” In most cases, however, he adds that these are curable and very common too.

West unlike South Asia

Unlike the US where people are frenzied about flu shots come fall, in humid tropical conditions like India the pattern is different. Regardless of the season, illness –aches and pains accompanied with high-at anytime of the year is often attributed to weather. Further evidence of this was provided in a surveillance conducted in Delhi for the period 2007 to 2010, which showed that flu is a year round disease in the city which peaks during the wettest months.

“Analysis of various meteorological factors revealed that the peak of influenza positivity for each year from 2007 to 2010 coincided with the peak of total rainfall during the monsoon season in Delhi area,” said the study.

Researchers also opined changed pattern of social behaviour is yet another potent cause of flu. In rainy season more people prefer to stay indoors and this increases their interaction and promotes social transmission of the virus.


While ‘viral fever’ has come to be a house hold name for any illness with high fever, runny nose, throat congestion and body ache, not all illnesses are caused by influenza virus. Only 30 percent of the generic viral fevers are caused by the flu virus which can be of H and M type. That they peak during rainy season can be blamed on unhealthy environs.

It’s proved that the faecal contamination of surface water heightens during monsoons and with it the fear of stomach bugs also increases. Pools and puddles of water becomes breeding ground for vector borne diseases. And most importantly transfer of bugs through nose and mouth also occur when people wipe face with their hands or handkerchief.


For those going natural, Nasreen Lakhani, a naturopathist suggests a strict regimen of exercise coupled with a healthy diet of season fruits and raw vegetables. “Flu is a viral disease that immediately catches hold of those with low immunity. Hence it is important to strengthen your immune system through diet and exercise,” says Lakhani. “After all prevention is better than cure,” she adds.

“Washing hands several times a day and using a freshly laundered handkerchief daily are the easiest way of preventing the virus from spreading. Also avoiding direct contact with people suffering from flu or even cold can work for your benefit,” says Dr Imranuddin.

While flu is extremely common doctors say that no medication should self administered. Influenza flu does not require antibiotic. Anti-allergic and decongestants are generally prescribed.

That weather changes influence flu is still short of scientific backing. Yet the idea that change in weather can culminate into something nasty is a reality. Hence the easiest preventive measure is to wash your hands as often as possible and put your used handkerchiefs in the laundry daily. 

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