Ramya Kannan

Stepped-up mosquito elimination measures will bring down infections

  • Ask public to watch out for warning signs
  • Focus on public places, creating awareness

    CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has recorded a total of 306 cases of dengue over the course of the year, though the "Dengue season" as it were, is yet to start.

    Directorate of Public Health officials said there were no "signs" of a dengue epidemic in the State. Of the 306 cases, 143 were reported in January, 34 in February, 14 in March, 20 in April, 14 in May, 30 in June, 22 in July, 11 in August and 18 in September. One death occurred in Tirupur in June.

    The stepped-up mosquito elimination measures being taken up by the Health Department after the chikungunya scare will also serve to bring down dengue infections, as it is the same mosquito that is the vector for both diseases. Larval density had reduced by 75 per cent, they added.

    However, officials caution public to watch out for warning signs of dengue and present themselves at any hospital for treatment if they do show the following symptoms:

    High fever lasting between two and seven days, accompanied by pain in the bones (not joints) and behind the eyeball, headache and rashes all over the body.

    Dengue shows distinct variations in symptoms: asymptomatic where patients manifest no symptoms but are carriers of the virus and Dengue Haemorrhagic fever which might lead to Dengue Shock Syndrome. "There is no cross immunity among the viruses. So anyone who has been affected by one particular virus can be reinfected by another," said P. Padmanabhan, Director of Public Health, . "It is also likely that the second infection can be severe."

    The problems start only after people recover from fever. A few people go on to develop Haemorrhagic fever, which is caused when capillaries (the smallest blood vessels in the body) allow the blood to leak out. The patient suffers from severe vomiting, bleeding in the gums, abdomen, ears and suffer from severe abdominal pain.

    One should also watch out for black stools, indicative of bleeding. Apart from this, there is excessive sweating and a cold clammy feeling in the limbs. "If untreated at this stage, the patient may degenerate into Dengue Shock Syndrome," Dr.Padmanabhan explained.

    If the patient reaches this stage, hospitalisation is a must. He/she will be treated with IV fluids. "In 80 per cent of the cases, patients recover with this treatment. But if they don't, they will require platelets transfusion." The government hospitals have ensured that sufficient platelets are available at the blood banks. "Deaths in dengue occur because of loss of fluids and when people do not come on time to the hospital," he said.

    The traditional `Dengue-prone' areas in the State are Coimbatore, Salem, Chennai, Kanyakumari and Tirupur. The health authorities are focussing on public places and creating awareness. Ready testing kits are also being made available to test suspicious cases for dengue.