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Updated: July 6, 2012 10:45 IST

Sporadic dengue cases in city warrant increased vigilance

Olympia Shilpa Gerald
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Capitalising the huge demand for the water containers, a pushcart vendor is seen doing brisk business in Hyderabad. Photo: G.Ramakrishna
The Hindu Capitalising the huge demand for the water containers, a pushcart vendor is seen doing brisk business in Hyderabad. Photo: G.Ramakrishna

Despite dengue admissions being reported in Chennai and southern districts of Tamil Nadu, health officials here have maintained a stoic silence.

Five patients admitted with dengue to the government hospital earlier this week was the first official confirmation of dengue this season. But the disease has been doing the rounds in the city and adjoining districts for quite some time as enquiries in various multispecialty hospitals reveal. Though nothing to panic about, sporadic cases reported within city limits in June calls for increased vigilance on part of public.

Despite dengue admissions being reported in Chennai and southern districts of Tamil Nadu, health officials here have maintained a stoic silence. At least five hospitals contacted by The Hindu confirmed an increase in dengue admissions last month. While two hospitals have seen an average of three cases in June, two other corporate hospitals saw 70 children and 62 adults test positive for the dengue. While two to four cases among these were from Tiruchi, most dengue admissions are from Aranthangi near Pudukottai and Pattukottai near Thanjavur. Most of the patients have been discharged. Various paediatricians also confirmed that cases were referred to from these regions. At least one major lab with referrals from major hospitals had more than 20 positive cases.

The hospitals here have reported them to Deputy Director, Department of Public Health, and corporation city health officer. But K.C.Cheran, city health officer, denied there any cases within city limits, noting most hospitals concluded dengue after conducting a preliminary test. The conclusive but expensive IGm count by the ELISA test kit was not done, he said.

However, acknowledging sporadic cases in the city, Mohan, Deputy Director, Health (in-charge) says public cooperation and awareness is a major obstacle in keeping the disease at bay. “Dengue mosquitoes breed in freshwater. A simple solution is to keep all water sources closed.”

With early identification of symptoms, dengue can be managed easily, says a paediatrician with a city hospital. Young children and the elders are cautioned to be watchful and self medication is a strict no-no.

A clinical diagnosis and blood tests must correlate to confirm dengue, says another paediatrician describing warning signs as prolonged fever for more than three to five days with puffiness of face and red marks. A senior physician says a platelet count maybe as a preliminary inexpensive test. Severe body ache and dullness are also early indications while vomiting, chillness of limbs, abdominal pain may occur in later stages. Blood pressure and platelet count monitoring is important. If detected early, intravenous fluids can help regain health.

Mosquito control

Dengue is not a poor man’s disease and all income classes are vulnerable. Within city limits, thickly populated areas and high-rise buildings should watch out for stagnation of fresh water as dengue causing mosquitoes breed in fresh water only. Check water pools, flower pots, shaving mugs and excess water dripping from air-conditioners apart from coconut husks, tyres and open water containers. Putting a lid on all containers that can be used to store water should be taken as precautionary step. Even lidless western closets and open gutters can turn into potential breeding places. Fumigation is carried out in all areas and mosquito larvae are being destroyed, says Dr.Mohan. “It is people who breed mosquitoes, but they are unaware of it,” says Sagaya Mary, deputy director, preventive health (in-charge), Aranthangi. “Water scarcity in Aranthangi leads people to store huge quantity of water which is often left uncovered. Awareness programmes with videos are being conducted in schools and villages.”

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