The number of patients admitted to hospitals after suffering from severe acute respiratory infection has gone up by 67 per cent in the last four weeks compared to the number of patients admitted to hospitals during the same period in 2018.
According to data provided by Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, as many as 1,085 people were admitted to hospitals in the last four weeks. There were 650 such cases reported during the same period last year. “The number is likely to increase as the mercury is dipping further across the country,” said Bibek Kumar Lal, director of EDCD.
Also a large number of patients suffering from respiratory illness, viral infection and fever are visiting out-patient departments of hospitals.
A record maintained by Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital shows that on an average 500 patients visit Pulmonology and Critical Care Medicine Unit of the hospital daily. The hospital runs the OPD service three days a week. “Around 60 per cent of the patients visiting the OPD are suffering from respiratory illness triggered by cold. Most of them are suffering from common cold, pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma,” said Dr Niraj Bam, an associate professor working at Pulmonology and Critical Care Medicine Unit of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.
Patients with low immunity such as children, pregnant women, elderly persons, people with immune compromised status like organ transplant patients and cancer patients are prone to cold related illness,” said Dr Lal.
Data provided by Bir Hospital shows that on an average 120 patients visit the respiratory Out Patient Department on a daily basis. The hospital runs OPD service three days a week. “The number of patients suffering from cold related ailment has gone up because of excessive cold.
The humidity in air decreases in winter. Also virus and bacteria in the dust particles are mixed with droplets and in the process of breathing, these bacteria and viruses get inside human body and attack respiratory system,” said Dr Bam.“When someone coughs or sneezes the droplets do not dry up easily because of cold weather. People nearby can easily come in contact with bacteria and viruses,” said Bishnu Prasad Upadhyay, consultant microbiologist at National Academy of Medical Sciences.
“A delay in treatment leads to severe infection. It could lead to viral pneumonia and bacterial co-infection, ultimately leading to death,” added Bam.
“Respiratory virus is a major cause of acute respiratory infection, of which influenza is one of the major public health burdens. Rate of respiratory infection transmission is higher in winter,” said Upadhyay.
A version of this article appears in print on January 02, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.