Hospitals and clinics in the UAE have been dealing with a surge in waterborne diseases as the heaviest rainfall on record left some neighbourhoods flooded. The most common cases include typhoid, dengue, respiratory infections and skin infections caused by prolonged exposure to water and other damp surroundings.

Dr Manoj Sharma, general practitioner (Emergency) at Aster Hospital, Al Qusais, said he has seen a 20 per cent increase in cases of fever, cold, and cough in the last few days. Even though adults have been falling sick, children make up the majority of the cases because of their vulnerability to respiratory illnesses and weaker immunity.

Aster Clinics in Dubai and Sharjah have recorded about a 20 per cent increase in the cases of fever, cold, and cough in the last few days.

“The most common rain-related illnesses are flu-like diseases, viral fever, gastrointestinal infections, and skin infections. Upper respiratory symptoms, cough, aches, fatigue and fever are the major complaints as of now,” said Dr Sayed, group medical director, Aster and Access Clinics, UAE.

The average number of patients visiting general physicians a day at NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain, has reached 40 — up from 25 to 30 before the storms.

“There has been a definite increase in the number of cases of viral fever, cold, and cough. The most common rain-related illnesses reported include acute bronchitis, rhinosinusitis, rhinitis, acute pharyngitis, nasopharyngitis, and viral fever to name a few,” said Dr Mujeeb Quadeer, general practitioner at the hospital.

“Apart from the newly diagnosed cases, there has been an increase in exacerbation of chronic conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic rhinitis.”

Mosquito-borne illnesses

Dr Sayed said he expects more mosquito-borne illnesses and skin conditions in the next few days because of stagnant water.

He recommended adequate precautions like mosquito repellents, and bed nets. “People must avoid walking in water-logged areas.”

According to Dr Doaa Zaki, general practitioner, Medcare Medical Center, Mirdif City Centre, it’s important for residents to get rid of mosquitoes inside their homes. “The bites could progress to infections on the skin. If you become susceptible to such infections, use anti-allergic creams or gel and cold compression. Try to avoid wrapping the infection … so that the infection heals faster.”

Respiratory infections

Dr Srinivasa Rao Polumuru, consultant internal medicine, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Nahda, Dubai, said the torrential rains have led to a “significant increase” in respiratory infections.

“Around 30 to 40 patients are coming with respiratory infections daily compared to 20 to 30 per day before rains. On average, five to six adults are admitted with pneumonia compared to two to three per day before the rains. The number is double among children as they are more vulnerable to infections,” said Dr Polumuru.

He noted a high number of people getting admitted with “unusual” pneumonia and flu symptoms. “Many asthmatic people are admitted with sudden exacerbations. Many people are coming to the emergency department with high fever and body aches.”

Increased demand for medicines

With the number of people getting sick increasing, the demand for medicines has also risen.

“Though … shortage of (some) medicines is inevitable due to the logistics issues during these tough times, we have managed … to adjust the medications for everyone who approached us,” said Dr Manoj.

Krishna Kishore, chief operating officer, Life Pharmacy, said the group is “closely monitoring the enhanced demand” for certain medicines. “We are committed to offer continued supplies with the support of the local administration, departments and medicine suppliers.”

To manage increased demand for medicines, health practitioners are prioritising essential medications.

Dr Abhi Mohan, general practitioner, Lifeline Clinic, Abu Shagara, said: “If a specific brand is unavailable, we recommend suitable alternatives. We inform patients about shortages and provide guidance (accordingly). We are also coordinating with other pharmacies and healthcare providers to share resources.”

Home remedies

With more rains predicted over the next couple of days and a drop in temperature on Wednesday, doctors advised community members to try home remedies instead of visiting hospitals amid unstable weather.

“Unless the health condition is serious … individuals should try home remedies to counter flu symptoms. People must stay hydrated and eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and food. They can gargle with warm salt water for relief from sore throat, and drink ginger tea with lemon and honey, which will also counter mild cold and cough,” said Dr Eman Abdul Kader, specialist internal medicine, Burjeel Speciality Hospital, Sharjah.

According to Kishore, home remedies and some over-the-counter medicines can help in symptomatic relief. However, in cases of high fever, fatigue, vomiting or any other health issues, patients must be taken to the hospital, he added.

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