No link between cold weather and pneumonia – Health experts

No link between cold weather and pneumonia - Health experts
Rodgers Ssekawoko Muhumuza, left, checked Owamani Bruce for pneumonia with a portable ultrasound scanner in the Kabale district in western Uganda. COURTESY PHOTO/Esther Ruth Mbabazi

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Health experts have ruled out a direct link between the weather and Pneumonia.

In an interview with this publication on Friday 13th, December 2019, Dr. Sabrina Kitaka a consultant paediatrician at Mulago hospital said the disease which is more common among children but can also affect adults is common during the cold weather.

She said during such weather a lot of children get allergies and even asthma symptoms which can be confused with pneumonia.

Another Child Health Expert at the Ministry of Health Dr. Julius Otim says that actually children who report with pneumonia also have other underlying illnesses that they are battling with but are often misdiagnosed.

He says that parents should be keen on what treatment they offer to their children when they develop cough because cough can sometimes be a sign that a child will also develop pneumonia.

He says the disease which claims the biggest number of children less than five years of age after malaria is often misunderstood. He says it can either be viral or bacterial and sometimes fungal whereby some of these bacteria and viruses can be spread by direct contact with a person who is already infected with them.

Dr. Kitaka said children who are most likely to get pneumonia are those with a weak immune system, such as from cancer or any other on-going chronic illness such as asthma or other problems with the lungs or airways. She adds that children younger than 1-year-old are at risk if they are around second-hand tobacco smoke especially if their mother smokes.

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While cases of bacterial pneumonia tend to happen suddenly with symptoms such as cough that produces mucus, vomiting or diarrhoea, fatigue and fever, Kitaka says with viral pneumonia, breathing problems happen slowly whereby a child may wheeze and the cough may get worse.

Currently, she says even as the public is crying of developing pneumonia because of the cold weather, the ward at Mulago is only seeing a decrease in cases after the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccination in June 2017. Viral pneumonia may make a child more at risk for bacterial pneumonia, she says.

According to Kitaka, before 2017 for every 10 cases registered, four would be admitted because of pneumonia but now it’s less than one at every admission a reason they have about seven cases on the ward right now. According to Ministry of Health figures, 24,000 children below five years of age succumb to pneumonia annually.