KOLKATA: Dengue and malaria have been haunting the city for the past two months. Now, a large number of people is falling victim to pneumonia.
Though earlier the elderly population had the risk of getting this disease, now even those in their 50s are being stalked by pneumonia. While some doctors feel the dengue outbreak may have led to a spurt in pneumonia cases, some refuse to draw conclusions without proper facts.
"Though there is no direct link between dengue and pneumonia, when a person suffers from dengue, the patient's immunity level could go low, hence increasing the chances of getting pneumonia," said Dr Raja Dhar, pulmonologist.
According to doctors, chances of people getting pneumonia after the age of 50 are 30% while after 65, the chances are 50%. The mortality rate in people who get pneumonia in the age group of 50 and above is about 10%. This rate could rise to 70% in those aged 65 and aged.
Co-morbidity conditions like heart ailment, kidney and lung problems are often found in the elderly especially because of change in the longevity pattern. These factors along with the change in weather conditions during monsoon make people more prone to pneumonia. However, this time, a different trend has been noticed.
More people are getting affected by the disease in months barring July and August - during which monsoon is at its peak.
Some medical experts are, however, not ready to consider this an outbreak. "It is possible that individual doctors are getting an increasing number of pneumonia patients. This could be a general perception. But unless there is a proper registry on pneumonia, it will be improper to conclude that there is a spurt in the number of pneumonia cases," said critical care expert Dr Arindam Kar.
Unlike dengue and malaria, pneumonia can be cured with the help of vaccines to a large extent. Taking a single shot of pneumonia vaccine every five years could prevent the disease by 70%.