‘Use of rapid test to detect and confirm disease is why ‘fever’ is being labelled dengue’

The special review meeting on dengue convened by Chief Minster Jayalalithaa on Monday discussed the usage of the rapid test to detect and confirm dengue in the State. This was the reason why ‘fever’ cases were being labelled dengue, though it was not actually that infection, a post-meeting press release said.

The rapid test was completely unreliable and would show positivity for a number of viral infections, but it was still being used indiscriminately by private practitioners, officials said. The only reliable test was the Elisa test, and confirmations as per this test showed that there were only 59 people currently with dengue. A further 400 people had been treated and had recovered to return home.

As a standard, the prevalence of fever cases was one per cent; and during the rainy season, about 2 per cent. Not all fever cases could be labelled dengue, according to the release. However, the health department was keeping a tab on all fever cases in the State, on a daily basis. Once fever cases were detected in a particular area, teams of public health officials were rushed to the spot to find the reason, and to take all measures to ensure the disease-causing vectors do not proliferate.

Adequate supplies to treat dengue, including fluid replenishments and blood products, had been disbursed to all government hospitals, to be able to treat all cases.

No mention was made of the number of deaths resulting out of dengue in the press release. The focus was on source reduction (mosquitoes and larvae), and the measures people can take to prevent mosquito breeding.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa urged that dengue awareness messages must continue to be spread until the number of cases came down.

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