The intermittent showers in the past few weeks have made children vulnerable to wheezing, fever and in some cases dengue and malaria.

Children are calling in at schools to report sickness, teachers say. V. Vasantha, teacher of a government-aided school in Chintadripet said many students in her school had been recently complaining of fever and were absent from school. S. Usha, a resident of Triplicane, said enough was not being done by the authorities concerned to control mosquitoes.

Though government doctors say dengue will be a cause for worry only from September-end, private hospitals in southern suburbs are already treating children for dengue fever. Chief paediatrician of Dr. Kamakshi Memorial Hospital in Pallikaranai N. Rajeswari said the hospital had admitted 12 patients so far for treatment. “There has been an increase in dengue haemorrhagic fever and malaria. The area around Pallikaranai is marshland and stagnant water and dumping of garbage helps mosquitoes breed,” she said.

The Institute of Child Health, Egmore, has also been treating a few children for dengue, according to its director P. Ramachandran. Paediatricians say they alert doctors and parents to watch for children who have fever for over five days and dengue-specific symptoms.

Viral infection resulting in wheeze among children below the age of three is a matter of concern, said S. Balasubramanian, consultant paediatrician at Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital. The Health Department of the Chennai Corporation has deployed over 1,200 workers as part of its intensive measures to control mosquitoes. According to an official, in many localities the adult mosquito density per man hour has decreased to 30 from over 100 three weeks ago.

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