Most cases from Pudukottai, Aranthangi and Nagapattinam

Finding a bed in a multispecialty hospital in Tiruchi may not be an easy task this week. Some of the major private hospitals in the city have seen an influx of admissions with suspected dengue, primarily from delta districts like Pudukottai, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam, leaving little room for inpatients.

While Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital in Tiruchi has seen no substantial rise in number of dengue admissions, few tertiary level private hospitals have a different story to tell.

Medical administrators and doctors from various hospitals who spoke to this reporter confirmed that there has been a definite increase in admissions over the last week.

Referrals

While sporadic cases are being reported within city limits, almost all cases are referrals from hospitals and practitioners in Keeranur and Aranthangi near Pudukottai, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam. The situation is not the same in all private treating centres or nursing homes, as referrals are made directly to advanced treating centres where intensive treatment is possible.

Various sources confirmed that certain hospitals are no longer taking in admissions while it is a struggle for space elsewhere.

“We cannot turn down patients. But all the wards and rooms are full and we have started setting up beds in the conference hall to accommodate patients,” said a medical administrator of a hospital in Cantonment.

“We are treating patients in stretchers and wheelchairs for want of space,” said another medical administrator of a hospital in Tennur. An illustration of the increase is a major hospital saw the number of confirmed dengue cases go up to 90 last week, which was double the admission figure, two weeks ago.

Another multispecialty hospital said there were 20 admissions on a single day. The monthly average of dengue admissions in these hospitals in July was lesser than the weekly average in September.

While many cases pertain to dengue in children, there has been concern over dengue in adults, which can turn fatal if it is a secondary infection.

The death of a toddler in August was the first reported case of mortality attributed to dengue this season.

Though sporadic dengue cases have been reported right from June, impending monsoons may worsen the situation, feel doctors.

Rare cases

While hospitals send daily reports to corporation officials and health department, health officials have maintained that cases within the city are rare and originate from neighbouring districts.

These reports are not taken seriously as they point out that most private hospitals do not perform the confirmatory test using ELISA test kits, which is held as conclusive proof of dengue.

Owing to the expense of the test, many hospitals confine to the rapid diagnostic test or card test to confirm dengue. This test, government health officials say, may show false positives, even for a case of typhoid.

“Hospitals in Pudukottai and other areas refer patients to Tiruchi if the card test is positive as they do not want to take chances,” said a paediatrician. Early referral can ensure dengue patients receive good care.

“The ELISA test can show definite signs only after five days of contracting the fever but the treatment does not change. By experience and indications, including abnormal drop in platelet count or fever, we start treatment on par with dengue,” said the chief medical officer of a specialty centre.

Officials cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the fact that hospitals are bursting at seams, said a medical officer at another centre which had results confirmed by ELISA.

While residents in areas susceptible to dengue blame it on inefficient anti-dengue operations, health officials maintain it is a case of public indifference and ignorance in stepping up preventive measures.

Dengue is most prevalent in areas with drinking water shortage where water is stored in containers that are not kept closed, they point out.

Various measures including, fogging and anti-larvael activities, and source reduction have been taken up, said Mohan, Deputy Director (in-charge), Public Health. Certain villages have seen a spurt in dengue cases, but they are under control, he confirmed.