The recent rains in the capital have somewhat diluted the expected surge in the number of pollen allergy cases. On the flip side, the sudden increase in the number of patients suffering from influenza virus has taken the health experts by surprise.
“Due to similarity in symptoms pollen allergy and influenza virus attack are often confused. However, the main differentiating factor is that only patients of influenza virus suffer from fever, said an expert.
Taking about the affected patients, he said, “If they do not take timely precautionary measures, it (influenza) could make them vulnerable to severe pollen allergy this year.”
Institute of Medical Sciences Senior Chest Physician Dr Asadullah Nemati said that only few patients with pollen allergy are visiting him. But the percentage of those coming in with influenza virus is quite high.”In the last 10 days, 60 per cent of the patients have come to me with influenza, which is very rare,” he said. He added that due to the recent rains, pollen particles have settled down and are not affecting people much.
The World Health Organization on Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases adviser Dr Muhammad Osman Yusuf said that this year, pollen allergy will start with a delay due to the recent rains. The season usually starts at the end of February. He added, “If it rains before March 22, there will be severity in pollen allergy and if after March 26, then the intensity will be low.”
He expressed concern over a large number of influenza patients being reported in the country since last November. He said that majority of the people who went for Umrah or Hajj last year returned with influenza as they were not properly vaccinated. Thousands of people were affected last year and many died but no record of such huge numbers is available with the government.
Moreover, due to lack of awareness, many people get vaccinated only once, when they should get a doze every month. He expressed dissatisfaction over the standard of vaccines being given to the people at public institutes. “Just before it is about to rain and humidity is high, one should avoid going around as it could cause a severe attack,” he added.
Meanwhile, pollen allergy still remains a potent threat. The doctors have warned people against going out when it is cloudy, as that is the peak time the pollen particles are suspended in the air. A good way to avoid contact from these particles is to wear masks, use inhalers and get vaccinated, said an expert.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2012.