Lack of dengue testing facilities in rural areas of the district came into focus at the council meeting of Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat here on Thursday.

Dakshina Kannada has only three laboratories which can conduct Elisa test on suspected dengue patients, but all of them are situated in Mangalore. Replying to questions by the panchayat members, O. Srirangappa, District Health and Family Welfare Officer, said that whether a fever was dengue or not could be confirmed only through enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Elisa) test, which can be conducted only at the government district laboratory in Hampankatta; Father Muller Hospital; and Kasturba Medical College Hospital in the city.

He said that rapid diagnostic kits could not prove if a fever was indeed caused by dengue. He said that so far 92 Elisa positive cases (and one death) have been reported in the district.

Of them 35 cases were reported from the government’s district laboratory and the other cases were reported from the two private laboratories.

Dr. Srirangappa said that there was no particular vaccine or tablet for dengue, a viral disease.

Satish Kumpala, pancayat member, said facilities to conduct Elisa test were needed in Sullia, Puttur and Belthnagady taluks, where more cases of suspected dengue had been reported.

Even as Mr. Kumpala was speaking on the laboratory facilities, the DHO left the meeting with president K. Koragappa Naik’s permission to attend a video conference of U. T. Khader, Minister for Health and Family Welfare. The discussion on laboratory facilities ended abruptly.

‘Precautions not taken’

Some members of the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat on Thursday took the Department of Health and Family Welfare to task for their “failure” to take adequate precautions to prevent spread of dengue in the district.

Mamata Gatti, of the Congress, said drains in gram panchayat areas were not maintained and the authorities did not spray disinfectants. K. S. Devaraj said the department should have been more alert to prevent dengue.

O. Srirangappa, District Health and Family Welfare, said meetings were held in March and April to discuss measures to prevent malaria and dengue. He said cleaning the drains was the job of gram panchayats.