The change in weather cooler temperatures has doubled the flu cases from December 2017, say doctors
Doctors are urging patients to take flu vaccinations after a man died last week in Dubai due to pneumonia caused by influenza.
Dr Mohammed Ashraf, specialist in Internal Medicine, Universal Hospital, said that the 35-year-old Pakistani man was healthy but his condition deteriorated rapidly. “He was a very healthy, active and robust young man, but he suddenly died from pneumonia caused by influenza.”
The patient had become unconscious on the second day in hospital, and the illness even affected his brain. “The virus can affect the lower airways and can progress into pneumonia.”
A rapid spread in flu cases is being seen this season worldwide, including in the UAE, where influenza type A and B are topping the doctors’ charts.
Dr Ashraf said he is receiving about 10 patients a day, and there are five doctors on the floor, thus totaling to around 50 patients admitted per day with the flu.
Influenza has resulted in hundreds of deaths around the world last month alone. “The number of cases are increasing everyday and some of the patients develop complications, including pneumonia.”
Prevention is the key, Dr Ashraf noted, and taking the flu vaccination before the fall season is crucial. “The number of cases would have decreased if people had taken their vaccinations at the right time.”
Doctors claim the UAE’s rapid change in weather and cooler temperatures has seen a rise in the number of flu cases to double the usual number, in just the last month.
Dr Trilok Chand, specialist in Respiratory Medicine, Burjeel Hospital, said children, pregnant women and chronic lung and heart disease patients are most vulnerable during the UAE’s season of cooler weather.
“From December until today, the number patients have increased dramatically, and in my experience, the number of flu patients have doubled from last year,” Dr Chand told Khaleej Times. “The main reasons for the increase in patients are the changing weather conditions and the cooler temperatures right now.”
Bacteria and viruses multiply faster in colder weather. “The body’s immunity also decreases in the colder season,” he added. Poor ventilation and air-conditioning units have a lot to do with the rising flu cases. “People tend to stay indoor during the cold season, but the ventilation units are poor in many homes, schools and buses and it’s causing the virus to spread,” Dr Chand added.
He is receiving between 40-45 patients each week, half with chronic lung diseases and needing urgent hospital care.
Dr Chand advises anyone with flu-like symptoms, including fever and body pain, to increase their liquid intake and eat healthy nutritious meals, besides taking proper rest and avoid going outside. “If your symptoms are more severe, see a doctor immediately.”
Anyoe over above the age of six months to take the yearly flu vaccine, particularly children, pregnant women and those suffering from chronic lung diseases, as they are at high risk.