Summer’s here and so are viral infections. No matter what activity you engage in, it’s important to protect yourself against common infections in this season of heat and dust. When the temperature soars, there are certain viral infections that you must be aware of. "As summer sets in, infections caused by enteroviruses are more commonly encountered. Enteroviruses commonly cause illnesses such as influenza-like illness (cough and runny nose) and gastrointestinal problems (diarrhoea and vomiting) 

They also cause aseptic meningitis, encephalitis and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). While respiratory infections and gastroenteritis are infections seen during early and midsummer, "in the latter half, mosquito density generally goes up, resulting in conditions favourable for transmission of dengue and chikungunya viruses .

 Work and viral risks Viruses transmitted by the airborne route can spread easily in professional settings such as air-conditioned closed spaces. Dr Vijay Kumar Agarwal, clinical adviser at Nightingales Home Health Services, says: "Working professionals are more prone to influenza and other flulike infections (including A and B, and swine flu). This is because of their work environment, which is, working in groups. 

Summer vs winter Health professionals say the summer season actually sees fewer viral infections when compared to winter. "During winter, respiratory viral infections such as influenza, parainfluenza and respiratory syncytial virus infections predominate," explains Ravi.

When sick… "Staying away from work if one is sick is the best service one can do to a company/institute. Self-isolation when not feeling well prevents spread of airborne viral infections. Cough etiquette and handwashing/hand sanitisation are also important health-hygiene tips one must pass on in an organisation," says Ravi. Other ways to prevent viral infections include maintaining hydration, using protective gears like mask, avoiding contact with infected people and taking vaccination.

"Hydrate properly by drinking enough fluids. Make sure to eat enough fruits such as oranges and sweet lime, use vegetables like carrot and lime in your food to get the required antioxidants. Even tulasi water and jeera water are useful," says Dr Dharini Krishnan, a consultant dietitian from Chennai. 

Guard against these common summer infections Viral Infections Polio enterovirus (causes mild sore throat and fever, meningitis and/or paralysis) Other enteroviruses, such as group A and B coxsackieviruses and echoviruses (mild respiratory illness), gastrointestinal illnesses, encephalitis and myocarditis (infl ammation of the heart muscle))

Hand, foot and mouth diseases caused by Coxsackie A16 and Enterovirus 71 viruses (lead to blisters or ulcers in mouth, hands and/or feet) Parainfluenza virus 3 (causes bronchiolitis, pneumonia or just a cold. Begins with a barking cough) 

Parainfluenza virus 3 (causes bronchiolitis, pneumonia or just a cold. Begins with a barking cough) Vector-Borne Infections Mosquito-borne infections like West Nile encephalitis, St Louis encephalitis and dengue fever .

Prevent Them Know the role of environmental factors (infection, cold, etc) or other triggers (indoor activity, vitamin D intake) Learn the importance of proper housing, ventilation and potential benefi ts of increased outdoor activity in natural UV light Wear light-coloured clothing covering your entire body If you suffer a significant illness with aches, pains and fevers, see a doctor immediately. Prevent food poisoning by washing hands and cooking surfaces frequently, do not allow foods and utensils to become cross-contaminated, cook foods to their proper temperature, and promptly refrigerate leftovers.