Special Correspondent

Outbreak of chikungunya feared

Steps to prevent it from spreading to other islands

Specialists from NICD to reach the island soon

KOCHI: There is an outbreak of viral fever in the 5,300-odd population in the Kadamath island in Lakshadweep, but authorities say it is not, as yet, a case of chikungunya attack.

“It is a viral fever and we have sent a doctor, an entomologist and a few paramedics there with supplies of medicines,” said K.P. Hamza Koya, Lakshadweep director of medical services.

Specialists from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) would be there soon. He told The Hindu by phone from Kavarathy that steps were being taken to forestall the spread of the viral disease to other islands.

However, because of last year’s chikungunya attack in two islands and the current heavy incidence of the disease in Kerala, people in the string of islands in Lakshadweep were worried that it could be another round of chikungunya attack.

Last year, there was an outbreak of chikungunya in two of the islands, Kalpeni and Androth. Several blood samples collected from these two islands at that time tested positive to chikungunya.

In December, a team of researchers from the Centre for Research in Medical Entomology, National Institute of communicable Diseases and the National Vector-borne Disease Control Programme carried out field investigation and collected blood and mosquito samples.

Their studies detected an unusual virus that caused the chikungunya epidemic in the two islands. B.K. Tyagi, director-in-charge of the Madurai-based Centre for Research in Medical Entomology, said more studies would be carried out on the virus.

The National Vector-borne Disease Control Programme, Delhi, might be studying the viral fever outbreak in Kadamath, he said.

In terms of scientific investigation, Dr. Tyagi said that the Kadamath outbreak was a positive development as it would help researchers study the links between it and last year’s chikungunya outbreak.

Dr. Hamza Koya said preventive steps were being taken in Kadamath.