Though school children are being roped in, preventive measures are yet to focus on schools

The death of a school student, who succumbed to dengue on Friday evening at the Tiruchi GH, has been the first official confirmation of a dengue death among children this season despite previous cases being tagged as ‘suspicious’ by health officials. While the corporation has proposed to involve school children in creating awareness of the viral fever, schools are yet to be accorded priority when it comes to prevention and control.

While the district administration, civic body and department of public health are going all out to control and prevent dengue through various sensitisation programmes and preventive measures, they have time and again emphasised the role of public cooperation in controlling the viral fever. Most of the efforts are concentrated on households and residential localities. Door-to-door campaigning, fogging and source reduction by eliminating mosquito larvae at breeding sites are done at homes but are yet to enter educational institutions.

Dengue prevention is warranted in schools as dengue causing mosquitoes are said to transmit the virus in the daylight, a time when most children are in school rather than at home, feel paediatricians and physicians.

Speaking to a section of school principals, it is evident that most heads of institutions are not fully aware of the spread of dengue. They associate the spread of viral fever with unclean surroundings. Contrary to prevailing misconceptions, dengue causing mosquitoes can breed in clear fresh water.

Though schools may be cautious about keeping premises clean, they overlook other breeding sites like uncovered overhead tanks, taps where children wash hands after lunch, water collected outside or inside bathrooms, asbestos roofs lofts, flower pots and dustbins, says a paediatrician at the government hospital.

Fumigation can be done in schools, provided it is done before or after school hours in order not to trigger allergies in students, says a senior paediatrician.

Though schools cannot change uniforms all of a sudden, they can relax uniforms for a month allowing boys to wear full trousers and long sleeves, feel paediatricians. Schools should also be liberal with attendance, not insisting on full attendance with viral fevers raging this season. This will help students get adequate rest and recover speedily.