FEVER – A dreadful word in the COVID Era

Article written by :drsanjukta
Dr Sanjukta De
DCH (Cal), DNB (Paeds), DCH (London), MRCPCH (UK), FRCPCH (UK), Dip Allergy (UK),
Clinical Director
Department of Paediatrics & Neonatology

Fever is a temporary increase in the body temperature, often due to an underlying illness. Having fever is a sign that something out of the ordinary is going on inside your body. It may occur due to various reasons like – a viral or bacterial infection, heat exhaustion, certain inflammatory conditions like juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, tumours, autoimmune conditions, etc. Hence we must know that, fever is not always due to viral infection or corona virus infection which is a misconception in many people across the world.

The emergence of a new variant of coronavirus named “Omicron” has already posed a threat on the world population recently. The pandemic is taking new turns every now and then. Here in India, just after the festive season, we saw a rise in cases of COVID 19 which has stabilised now. However, at the onset of winters, Influenza, Dengue & Malaria continue in Kolkata and its suburbs. As per statistics, we have also analysed that, the number of cases of Dengue and Malaria as compared to last year, number of patients admitted this year at our hospital have increased relatively. Cases of dengue and malaria will continue until the mercury settles down at 15oC and below and rainfall stops.

Dengue fever and Malaria cases are being detected in children who are presenting with fever in the OPD in the last few weeks. A word of caution is that, it’s advisable not to do blood tests for Dengue, Malaria or Typhoid too early in the course of illness as it might be falsely negative. Wait for at least 3 days before doing any blood tests and always take your paediatrician’s advice.

At the onset of winter and during monsoon, we have also come across cases of seasonal influenza virus which are having overlapping symptoms with COVID. We should also be aware that children are in every way more vulnerable to any influenza infection and other seasonal viruses during the season change, as their immune system is still new and growing day by day. We have also come across people, who are rushing to get their RTPCR test done, of which most are having a negative result. We have to remember that COVID is also caused by a virus, as are most seasonal infections like RSV, influenza A and rhinovirus which remain active till the mercury drops. Seasonal change always affects the mass (mostly children) and causes flu in them. The most common signs of influenza virus infection which should be noticed are:

  • Fever or having chills – This might not happen with all the people who have contracted an influenza virus infection
  • Cough
  • A sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body ache
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Some people may even develop symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea which is more common in children

Most of the symptoms of an influenza virus infection are very close to COVID 19 symptoms. Majority of the cases we received over the past few weeks were analysed by us to be cases of viral attacks, mostly influenza. This is due to a sudden changes or fluctuating temperature.

A few things should be kept in mind if anyone has contracted an influenza infection. They are as follows:

  • Firstly, please keep yourself isolated and identify the symptoms mentioned above. Get tested immediately only if you have comorbidities or you feel severe symptoms like respiratory distress and a fall in oxygen saturation.
  • Get in touch with your physician or consult a doctor.
  • Paracetamol, vitamins and fluid should suffice for the ones with minor symptoms.
  • A healthy diet is also suggestive. Rather than having vitamin supplements, please keep a diet rich in fruits, seasonal vegetables and protein.

Recently there has been a rise in the number of Typhoid and Chicken pox cases. A likely reason is that children are not being vaccinated in time, and as per schedule. It is important to keep your children up to date on vaccination, especially in this pandemic situation. Influenza, Typhoid, Chicken pox are all vaccine preventable diseases and can be prevented by timely and effective vaccination.

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