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Public sensitisation vital for dengue prevention

K.V. Prasad

Poor awareness, living conditions lead to more cases

COIMBATORE: The rise in cases of dengue over the last two months in Tirupur and the sporadic cases - considered normal - in the city are being attributed to low penetration of awareness drive on preventive measures and living conditions that force unsafe storage of freshwater.

Over the last couple of months, health officials have been issuing releases in the media periodically to prevent dengue and also panic among the public. Description of the mosquito that carries the dengue virus, its breeding place and the period during which it stings people and transmits the virus and also the ways to check the spread of the disease had been listed in these releases.

Steady flow of cases

Hospitals in the city have been reporting a steady flow of cases from Tirupur besides sporadic ones from Udumalpet, Pollachi and also the city and periphery. This points out that awareness is not total.

Health officials feel that awareness among public vital to prevent the spread of the disease. Apart from watching out for symptoms such as fever, headache and muscle and joint aches, public will have to concentrate on preventive measures. This area still remains a cause for concern because of two reasons: lack of awareness or sensitivity among the public or lack of safeguards forced on them by living conditions.

Storage of water

The female of the aedes aegypti mosquito carries the virus and breeds only in freshwater. Health authorities are fighting hard to sensitise the public on safe storage of water. It should not be stored in open containers. Sumps or overhead tanks must be closed airtight.

While health officials had targeted areas where such unsafe storage persisted, fresh cases in Tirupur and the overall panic in the city in the wake of recent rain clearly pointed to the need for a sustained effort at sensitisation.

Rise in sporadic cases

Rise in the sporadic cases are reported during rain as mosquitoes find more number of breeding grounds in the water in flowerpot and discarded containers, tyres and coconut shells. During other times, it is water stored by people in containers without lids.

In the absence of daily water supply, the commodity has to be stored and that too mostly in drums kept in the open. But the hole made on the lid to pass a hose through it for pumping water to the first or second floors is enough to provide passage for mosquitoes. Residents are forced to adopt this method and run the risk of contracting dengue. In cases other than these, either the health department's message has not percolated to the lowest level or there is no sensitivity to it.

The Indian Medical Association in Tirupur had even conducted a training programme for doctors on effective treatment in the primary stage itself, to prevent the viral attack from reaching a critical stage.

This pointed to the need for sensitisation of the medical fraternity itself.

Coimbatore Corporation has said in a release that its health department workers were spraying chemicals in water tanks and wells to prevent breeding of the mosquito.

The Corporation sought public co-operation in carrying out this process and asked them not to store fresh water in open containers.

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