Many residents have been hospitalised with symptoms of dengue and typhoid

It has been a season of fevers in the southern suburbs. Residents have been thronging hospitals with unknown viral fevers besides dengue and typhoid.

On Tuesday, a representative from Parvathi Hospital in Pallavaram alerted municipality officials about a patient who tested positive for dengue. At Malar Hospital in Adyar, a doctor said he sees two to three patients with dengue every day. At his clinic in Pallavaram, he said more people came for treatment of dengue.

A little farther, in Pallikaranai, the paediatric outpatient ward of Kamakshi Memorial Hospital is busy. N. Rajeshwari said she sent a letter to the Chennai Corporation about seven patients who tested positive for dengue and 14 children who were treated for typhoid.

“In the last 15 days, we have had 14 cases of typhoid. Typhoid is endemic here because of water contamination,” she said.

Six of the patients with dengue have been discharged and one patient is still in hospital. Most of the children admitted to the hospital are from Velachery, Madipakkam, Pallikaranai, Medavakkam and Sholinganallur.

“They test positive in the serological test but when we take cultures we don’t see good growth (of the dengue virus). This is because these patients undergo partial treatment before they come to us,” Dr. Rajeshwari said. The children complained of high-grade fever, body ache and myalgia (muscle ache).

Officials in Pallavaram municipality said they were distributing pamphlets and conducting medical camps to raise awareness and assuage fears, but residents are not fully convinced. Since mid-September, residents of several areas have sought treatment at private clinics for viral fever.

In wards 8 and 12, several cases of fever have been reported. A. Shanmugam and his wife Manorama are recuperating from a viral fever that left them weak with achy joints. In fact, in their apartment complex of 32 houses, almost all have taken ill.

Physician J. Prabhakaran, who has treated all these residents, said he tested a couple of blood samples for chikungunya but they turned out negative. In the last three weeks, he had seen at least two patients with dengue every day, he said.

Residents blame the municipality for poor sanitation. “They should clear garbage everyday. Fogging is not done regularly either and that is the reason for mosquitoes,” said A. Sankar, a resident.

Garbage contaminates groundwater

Environmental experts said release of leachate from garbage into groundwater over a long term could contaminate it.

Water in and around Pallikaranai marshland is highly saline as the wetland is a mix of fresh and brackish water.

The level of total dissolved solids, which is used to estimate salinity in water, could vary from 3,000 parts per million (ppm) to 5,000 ppm against the accepted limit of 500 ppm, an expert said.

Percolation of leachate is slow as the top layer in the marshland is clay-like and the hard rock beneath it does not allow water to permeate into the ground.

However, garbage accumulation is hazardous to health as rodents and flies breed near the garbage, followed by mosquitoes, said V. Srinivasan, convenor of Save Pallikaranai Marshland Forum, who said it is imperative to take up source segregation.

The quality of groundwater has deteriorated severely in areas located within a radius of one km from the marshland. Groundwater in localities such as MCN Nagar, Sai Nagar in Thoraipakkam and Thirumoorthy Nagar in Perungudi is not fit for drinking. Residents of Mylai Balaji Nagar, Velachery, suffered a lot owing to poor quality of groundwater, Mr. Srinivasan said.

64 hospitalised in Kancheepuram

Residents suffering from fever and high temperature in six wards in Kancheepuram municipal area were advised to approach the District Government Headquarters Hospital for dengue test if fever persisted.

On Tuesday, municipal chairman, T. Mythili said fever surveillance exercise in six wards revealed that a total of 64 persons — 23 men, 35 women and 6 children — were suffering from fever.

The households were inspected for possible source of origin of dengue-causing mosquitoes. Residents have been advised to ensure uncontaminated water is not allowed to stagnate in utensils, plastic/iron containers or discarded materials such as tyres and coconut shells.

Residents were also advised to avoid collection of water in the auto-defrost trays in refrigerators and water-collection trays of window air-conditioners. These too serve as breeding grounds for aedes mosquitoes, said municipal commissioner N. Vimala.

Ten mini fogging machines would be purchased and put into service to eradicate mosquito breeding, she said.

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