The capital district continues to live up to its infamous status of being the dengue capital of the State.
As on July 15, over 51 per cent of the total dengue case burden across the State can be attributed to the district, which recorded 2,609 of the confirmed total of 5,063.
Dengue incidence, which began to show an increase in April has continued to maintain the increasing trend, with over 1,000 confirmed cases being reported in the month of June alone.
Dengue control activities too seem to have lost momentum in the district, with small clusters of cases being reported from many areas, indicating that rampant transmission and high vector density. Health officials say vector-control activities such as source reduction is still being carried out but the areas identified as hot spots, such as Pallichal, Balaramapuram, and Vilappil, continue to generate dengue cases.
“Vector density studies show that the vector index has come down but our problem has always been that the control activities are never sustained. As soon as dengue cases go down or the political pressure over a mounting case burden is eased, the pace of control activities also tends to go lax,” health officials say.
Fogging is not effective during the rainy season but even otherwise, the authorities could not get fogging done because of stiff public resistance over fears that the chemicals released into the air could result in massive pollution.
A couple of local chikungunya outbreaks in parts of the city such as Vivekananda Nagar in Kesavadasapuram and Kowdiar went unnoticed in the flood of dengue. About 30-odd cases have been reported so far this year.
Public health experts say a major chikungunya outbreak cannot be ruled out at some point because the incriminating vector in this case, Aedes Aegypti, is the same vector which transmits dengue. The district still has a sizeable population vulnerable to chikungunya attack. Unlike Pathanamthitta or Alappuzha which have had major outbreaks in the past, affecting the entire population, Thiruvananthapuram has escaped so far even though chikungunya made its first Southern appearance at Vizhinjam in 2006.
The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, which studied nearly 600 blood samples from areas in the southern and northern parts of the district bordering Tamil Nadu, has reported that all four dengue serotypes are in circulation in the community and that nearly 45 per cent of the blood samples collected from fever patients had tested positive for dengue. (Serotype is a serologically distinguishable strain of a microorganism).