Growing number of cases in hospitals, especially children; doctors raise fears of lack of blood components

Even as the government is doing its best to allay fears of a dengue epidemic across the State, hospitals in the city are reporting more cases of viral fever.

Early on Monday, Fousia (7) from Kancheepuram who had been admitted to the Government Children’s Hospital in Egmore on Saturday, died of dengue-related complications. Her death spread panic in Little Kancheepuram and schools there declared a holiday. All parents were advised to get their children tested.

At the hospital attached to the Institute of Child Health, three rooms on the second floor were overflowing with children. The wards were locked from inside and doctors could be seen attending to parents’ queries.

Many of them have come from suburban areas and other districts like Manali, Perungalathur, Perungudi, Tiruttani, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Vandavasi, Kancheepuram and even Cuddapah in Andhra Pradesh. Some of them have been in the hospital for a week.

J. Ratnakumar of Perungalathur, who was squatting in the hospital corridor, said his seven-month-old daughter was being treated for dengue. “She had fever for five days and today I came here. Doctors asked us to get the blood and urine tests done immediately as it was an emergency,” he said.

Efforts to reach several senior doctors at the hospital were in vain.

Children seem to be more susceptible, as even private hospitals in the city and the suburbs are recording a steady trickle in the number of children reporting with the infection. A hospital in Pallikaranai said each week, two or three children tested positive for dengue.

At the Government Royapettah Hospital, a 15-year-old boy from Mylapore who was admitted on Sunday has been confirmed to have dengue.

Private practitioners meanwhile are raising the spectre of lack of blood components and a call for easing of norms to set up more blood component separators.

N. Rajkumar, head of department of transfusion medicine at Stanley Medical College, however said the State has adequate supplies of blood and blood components in private and government-run blood banks.

According to K. Selvaraj, director of blood safety, Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society, the first line of treatment for dengue is replacing lost fluids.

“The recent WHO guideline says it is enough to give only plasma. We have to maintain the body volume through IV fluids and monitor the platelets every day. All hospitals have the facility to check platelet count. When the count falls below 15,000 it is time to administer platelets,” he said.

(With inputs from V. Venkatasubramaniam)

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