CHENNAI: A string of ‘mystery fever’ cases in the city over the last few weeks has left doctors puzzled.
“The fever shows symptoms of chikungunya and at times of dengue, but the tests are negative for both. Most of the patients come in with really high fever which lasts up to three days following which they have intense pain in the joints,” said Dr V Ramasubramaniam, infectious disease specialist at Apollo Hospitals.
With the test results for various infectious diseases turning out to be negative, physicians find it difficult to prescribe medicines.
“Since we don’t know the reasons for the ailment, we are forced to treat the symptoms. We prescribe medicines for the fever and painkillers for the joint aches. The symptoms are the almost the same — fever, followed by severe body pain which could last up to two weeks or a month,” said Dr T N Ravishankar, head, Deepam Hospital.
Doctors say a lot of patients discontinue the medication they prescribe and go for a second opinion as they don’t get a concrete explanation for the cause.
Many patients are shuttling between doctors to find the reason for the fever and body aches. “At first I thought it was the routine seasonal flu. But when my temperature rose and my body ache became unbearable, I knew it was more than that. I couldn’t even place my feet on the floor,” said Susan Philip of Nungambakam.
When tests for chikungunya and dengue returned negative, she shifted to ayurveda. “Doctors said it was some viral fever and gave me painkillers. I was apprehensive about taking them so I switched treatment,” she said.
Ayurveda doctors say they have seen a spurt in cases of people coming to them with pain. “Most come to us after the fever. It looks like a milder case of chikungunya, which doesn’t require aggressive treatment as such and is self-limiting,” said Dr Vinodhini Varma of Kottakkal Arya Vaidya.
Health officials say such infections usually occur due to a change in weather, but say the current fever is not life-threatening. “We had an intermittent spell of rain before and we’ve had cloudy conditions over the past few weeks. This is has created a conducive environment for such infections. We have stepped up vigilance,” said Chennai Corporation health officer P Kugananthan.