Ramya Kannan

90 per cent of cases caused by common viral infections: report

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has asked for a Central team to be deputed to independently study the fever situation in the State. According to the government’s report, 90 per cent of the fever cases are caused by common viral infections.

The report, submitted to the Union Ministry of Health, has indicated that a majority of the cases are “non-specific fevers.” In 10 per cent of the cases, however, the fever is a symptom of chikungunya, dengue, typhoid or acute respiratory tract infections, Director of Public Health S. Elango told The Hindu.

Samples from patients with fever in different parts of the State have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for testing.

Dr. Elango is currently on an epidemiological investigation tour in the southern districts, where the ‘mysterious fever’ has been reported. “There is no mysterious fever. We are picking up the viruses, but it is true that we are now getting combinations that were not seen in the past – typhoid and dengue, chikungunya and typhoid, and, sometimes, with RTIs,” he explained.

With some persons who suffer from what has been identified as “viral infection,” complaining about stiff joints and restricted mobility, the DPH says the suspicion is that there may be a mutant version of chikungunya that remains undetected in a normal test. According to him, there have been sporadic fever outbreaks in parts of the State, predominantly in the south. The affected districts are, Virudhunagar, Madurai, Chennai, Tirunelveli, Tiruvallur and Ramanathapuram. Recently an 11-year-old-boy, who was treated for dengue, died at Theni. A district entomologist had been suspended in this regard.

“What we have found is that at least 60 per cent of the houses in Theni are home to the aedes aegypti mosquito in different stages of development. These dengue and chikungunya-causing vectors breed in stagnant water containers and in water storage tanks that are not covered,” Dr. Elango said.

Apparently, the locals are reluctant to allow sanitary inspectors inside their homes and recommend measures to get rid of the breeding areas. “The thing to do is to break the life-cycle of the mosquito. Empty the water containers and destroy their breeding zones,” he said.

He advised senior citizens who had complained of stiffness of joints after a bout of fever to keep their chronic conditions (such as diabetes or hypertension) under control.

The ligaments become stiff, and this is exacerbated by the relatively cold weather, leading to pain and stiffness, especially among older people.

Early morning pain could be relieved by soaking the affected joint in warm water.