Warning: Flu season in UAE will last until March
It is advisable for families to stay away from crowded places, especially when there are children or adults suffering from flu at home
Dubai - It would be wise not to send sick children to school and seek medical attention for any concerns.
Published: Thu 25 Jan 2018, 11:00 PM
Last updated: Fri 26 Jan 2018, 7:18 AM
Doctors advised residents to maintain good health habits as the flu season is expected to last until March. They also noted that there has been an increase in the number of cases of influenza, lower respiratory infections and pneumonia in the last two months.
"We have noticed a surge of influenza positive cases during this flu season especially last November and December. Many of these cases with secondary bacterial infections in children had led to pneumonia," Dr Vishwanath K Gowraia, consultant and head of pediatric pulmonology (asthma and allergy), at NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times.
"In our hospital alone, we have seen 233 children who were positive for influenza with 183 children requiring hospital admissions for complications such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Among those admitted to the hospital, over 70 children required high dependency care for respiratory support," he added.
Dr Anil Grover, internal medicine specialist and chairman of infection control at the International Modern Hospital (IMH), Dubai, said: "In general, winter is a season when outbreaks of infectious disease such as influenza and pneumonia are quite common. Pregnant women, diabetics, the elderly, those with cancer, and infants need extra care as the rate of infection in these populations are higher and more risky," he added.
In the last two months at IMH, Dr Grover noted there were a total of 15 reported cases of influenza (A and B), one case of H1N1 (swine flu) and six cases of pneumonia while, in the first 20 days of January 2018, there have been two cases of influenza (A and B) and six cases of pneumonia.
Dr Ravi Arora, specialist internal medicine, also said the increase in the number of respiratory infections in the last two months at NMC Specialty Hospital. "The increase is more than the previous years for the same period. The peak was in November (2017) followed by a slight dip in December- probably as the schools closed and residents went on vacations - but there has been a surge again in January this year," he noted.
"The approximate 20 per cent increase in November was substantial in causing quite some morbidity and sickness in the public with quite some work days lost. Swine flu (H1N1) testing is normally reserved for only the very sick patients who need hospitalisation and we have had patients who were tested H1N1 positive," Dr Arora added.
The doctors were in unison in saying that "the key to controlling the spread of infection is adopting personal hygiene methods such as frequent hand washing, using hand sanitisers and covering the mouth while coughing and sneezing."
It is also important to stay well hydrated by consuming plenty of water. It would be wise not to send sick children to school and seek medical attention for any concerns, they added.
Self-isolation key to preventing fluPrevention is always better than cure. So it is advisable for families to stay away from crowded places, especially when there are children or adults suffering from flu at home, according to Dr Vishwanath K Gowraia, consultant and head of pediatric pulmonology (asthma and allergy), at NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi
Dr Gowraia said: "This not only avoids spreading the infection to others but also prevents the flu from getting worse due to secondary bacterial infections."
For his part, Dr Ravi Arora, specialist internal medicine, said: "Flu vaccine might not be 100 per cent effective in preventing influenza but can definitely shorten the duration, spread and complications of the illness. People with lung diseases, asthma, diabetes, heart diseases, cancers, elderly age groups, pregnant women and those having low immunity are likely to benefit the most from flu vaccine."
Moreover, self-isolation by staying away from malls, public events and offices by affected clients can mitigate transmission of the disease, the doctors said.