: Scientists tracking the circulation of various viruses at the city-based Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV) have termed the current season in Pune ‘healthier’, with the positivity rate of the viruses, including that causing Covid-19, H1N1, dengue and respiratory illness, dropping to less than 1% here.
This follows almost three years of the Covid pandemic and subsequent resurgence of swine flu (H1N1), dengue, hand, foot and mouth disease, as well as seasonal flu in the last six months.
“The positivity rate of various viruses has gone down to less than 1% in Pune, making the current season, ahead of Christmas, a lot healthier in terms of infectious diseases,” a senior NIV scientist told TOI on Wednesday.
In earlier studies of viruses co-circulating in Pune, scientists from the NIV had reported 38% positivity rate of dengue infection in samples tested at its apex laboratory in the city in July and August this year. Similarly, among the referred samples during the same period, the positivity rate of swine flu was 17.4%, while it was 15.4% for Covid-19.
Treating doctors have also corroborated the NIV’s observations in their clinical practice. General practitioner Dr Santaji Kadam, who runs a clinic in Kothrud, said, “Cases of viral diseases have drastically dropped in Pune.
The current weather is certainly a lot healthier than the period gone by when we would see a lot of cases of swine flu, dengue, hand-foot-and-mouth disease and seasonal flu infection, including the one caused by H3N2.”
Doctors are currently seeing mainly pollution or environment-linked cases, including respiratory infections. “In fact, bacterial infections have also gone down these days in addition to viral diseases,” Dr Kadam said.
Senior clinical epidemiologist Dr Amitav Banerjee said, “Over time, due to increasing population-level immunity, viral infections tend to become self-limiting. Most patients do not seek treatment or at the most go to private practitioners who treat them symptomatically.”
But unlike the sustained intermittent peaks of SARS-CoV-2 over the last two-and-a-half years, the resurgence of other viruses had been mostly seasonal. “Hence, we need to continue wearing masks,” said Dr Sanjay Patil, chairman of the Indian Medical Association’s hospital wing.