Six months ago, Mukund Bhatia (name changed), a software engineer from Madhya Pradesh, had moved to Bengaluru. Within days, he developed breathing problems. Though it began as a mild irritant, it got severe with time. Once in the dead of night, he was so troubled he had to be rushed to a premier city hospital.
With medical intervention, his condition got better but even now he has to be on medication for at least a couple of months till he adjusts to the new environment.
Bhatia’s doctors said his plight was similar to that of many migrants who move to the city and struggle to adjust to climatic conditions here. Hailing from diverse climatic conditions, they are by default vulnerable to typical Bengaluru diseases and immune to a few others.
Doctors admit there is a disease pattern seen among people from other parts of the country who stay in Bengaluru. “It is not only people who come to work here but even their parents who suffer from severe problems associated with this climatic zone. We do enquire about our patients’ native and the duration they have been in Bengaluru,” said Dr Vivek A Padegal, consultant and director of pulmonary services, Fortis Hospital.
According to Dr Vivek, people coming from Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand and northern states are commonly susceptible to malaria, filaria and tropical pulmonary eosinophilia (TPE) when they move to Bengaluru.
The migrant population is at a greater risk of suffering from asthma and allergies. There are instances of people not suffering from asthma turning into asthmatic patients within days of moving to the city, doctors say.
“The migrant population would surely be prone to various kinds of allergies when they come here,” said Dr Swati Rajagopal, consultant, Infectious Diseases, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwantpur.
However, given that India is endemic to many diseases, there is not a vast difference in the disease profile across regions. The number of affected people increases year-on-year but the chances of a new disease coming to Bengaluru might take long.
The silver lining is the good public health system that Bengaluru boasts of. “As long as the cities where people are migrating have a good public health system in place, there is nothing much to be worried about for either the migrants or local communities,” said Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, medical director, Manipal Hospitals.
Changing landscape of epidemics
Urban experts say at least a thousand people migrate to Bengaluru every day. In the process of settling down in the new city, the migrants have even brought about a change in the communicable diseases profile over the years. They are immune to certain diseases endemic to Bengaluru and vulnerable to some.
“Take malaria. Natives of the hilly belt between Maharashtra and Odisha are prone to it, while those in Bengaluru were not 10 years ago. Despite Bengaluru not being a conducive breeding ground for malaria mosquito (due to temperature, climate etc), the instances of people being affected with malaria has gone up significantly in the last few years,” said S K Ghosh, senior scientist at the National Institute of Malaria Research, Bengaluru.
According to Ghosh, communicable diseases like malaria, chikungunya and tuberculosis are most likely to affect Bengalureans more and more in the coming days.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CISR) has established a nationwide network of observation system. “Accumulation of data from such a network over a long period will provide more reliable estimates of impact of regional climate change on disease dynamics”, said P Goswami, chief scientist at CSIR C-MMACS, Bangalore.
* Migrants are by default vulnerable to typical Bengaluru diseases and immune to a few others
* People not suffering from asthma seen to get it after moving to city, say doctors
* People from Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand and north susceptible to malaria, filaria and tropical pulmonary eosinophilia (TPE)
* Natives of the hilly belt between Maharashtra and Odisha are prone to malaria, while those in Bengaluru were not 10 years ago
There is definitely a disease pattern which we can see when people from other parts of the country come to Bengaluru. It is not only people who come to work here but even their parents who suffer from severe problems associated with this climatic zone
Dr Vivek A Padegal, consultant and director of pulmonary services, Fortis Hospital