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Although the typical influenza season strikes during winter, bacterial and fungal infections can also peak during summer when microbes thrive amid heat and humidity. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: As temperatures soar, with the weather getting humid and dusty too on several days, doctors are advising residents to guard against common cold, influenza and other viral infections.

Although the typical influenza season strikes during winter, bacterial and fungal infections can also peak during summer when microbes thrive amid heat and humidity.

In addition, suspended dust particles and pollen in the air can trigger respiratory allergies in people who have a histamine response to these elements, causing watery eyes, sneezing, itchy throat and runny nose, among other manifestations. Unclean air ducts at home and carpets with fine dust trapped in synthetic fibre are favourite spots in the home for growth of molds and fungi, with the heat and humidity giving rise to allergic symptoms such as bouts of sneezing, watery eyes and even mild fever.

However, not everyone is up to date with their flu vaccines.

Dr Mohammad Rafique, medical director, pulmonologist and chair of infection control at Prime Hospital, who sees influenza cases regularly, owing to the fear of contracting COVID-19, most people have been focusing on COVID-19 vaccines, overlooking the annual influenza vaccine.

Dr Mohammad Rafique

“It is important that people do not overlook getting their annual flu vaccine. Those who missed it last year must take it now, as with travel, there is a threat of exposure to influenza strains.”

Dr Hasan Alogaily, consultant Family Medicine at King’s College of London in Dubai, said, “It is advisable for those who did not take the influenza vaccine shot during winter last year to get the jab now. While the COVID-19 vaccine and booster are an individual’s best defence against the infection, flu jabs help the body to be strong and minimise the risk of getting flu.”

Dr Hasan Alogaily

However, he said people must remember that while vaccines do provide substantial immunity, they are not a complete cover. “People still need to be careful and take other precautions.”

Dr Rafique said: “People are finding it difficult to distinguish between COVID-19 and the common flu. Many symptoms in the beginning are similar. One is likely to have mild fever, sore throat and body pain. The best bet to establish the distinction is to consult a doctor. When ill, always wear a face mask when in company of others and isolate until the symptoms subside.”

Dr Alogaily said: “The best defence against any infectious disease at present continues to be adherance to the COVID-19 protocols. “Avoid overcrowded, closed public places, especially those who suffer from other co-morbidities. Do not let down your guard. In a public place, follow the COVID-19 protocols. Wear your mask, observe social distance and use hand sanitisers.”

Flu symptoms

• Mild fever

• Sore throat

• Fatigue

• Body-ache

• Allergic sneeze, cough, runny nose

Prevention tips

• Get you flu jab and all other periodic vaccinations, especially if travelling

• Get your air-condition ducts deep-cleaned

• Brush, air, wash and provide sun exposure to your carpets in preparation to rid them of any growing fungal or pollen spores or moulds

• Have health supplements such as Vitamin C and Zinc that help build immunity

• Hydrate yourself well during summers

• Make sure you have taken your COVID-19 booster doses

• Avoid self-medication if you have fever and other accompanying symptoms. Consult your family General Physician.

• Wear a mask and stay indoors if you are ill.

Source: Dr Mohammad Rafique and Dr Hassan Alogaily