Forging community partnerships key in combating dengue vector

With the Union Territory already recording 577 dengue cases barely mid-way into the year, the health department is intensifying inter-sectoral preventive measures to check the spread of the potential fatal mosquito-borne infection. Though traditionally, the summer months see the dengue incidence taper off significantly, the numbers reported this year have triggered a sense of urgency in vector control measures.

This year, there were 262 confirmed dengue cases in January, 130 in February, 107 in March, 68 in April and 10 so far this month. These are much higher than the incidence during the January-April months of previous years. If the trend holds, the Union Territory could be seeing a high dengue incidence year. The total dengue cases were 490 in 2016, 581 in 2018, 651 in 2020. The worst year was 2017 when the Union Territory reported a record 4,568 dengue cases. While the Union Territory recorded 2,038 cases in 2019, last year the figure was 1,625. “Though the September-December period is when cases usually peak, we are seeing sporadic dengue cases through the year”, said G. Sriramulu, Health Director, who flagged off an awareness rally as part of National Dengue Day observance on Monday. “Source reduction by eliminating freshwater breeding sites in households and the neighbourhoods is the only viable prevention measure and this can be achieved only with community partnerships and coordination of multiple departments”, he said. Dengue is a disease transmitted by Andes aegypti with four identified sero types. According to the bionomics of the vector, the Aedes species is a daytime biter and it breeds in stagnant clean water in a 7 to 10 day period. “This year, a few hotspots which emerged contributed to the bulk of the caseload a few months ago”, said L. Ravivarman, State Surveillance Officer who leads the Integrated and Disease Surveillance Programme under the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). In Bahour, particularly, the spike qualified as an outbreak warranting reporting to the NCDC. It took a month-long campaign around awareness, prevention and source reduction initiatives to bring the outbreak under control, he said. Bahour is the new area of concern for health officials who were closely monitoring the traditionally dengue endemic areas such as Ariyankuppam, Lawspet, Krishna Nagar, Mudaliarpet, Muthialpet and Lawspet. Typically, dengue is associated with rainy months, when clean water gets collected in man-made containers of plastic tea cups, coconut shells, tender coconut, flower pots and base it, tyres, outlets of outdoor units of air conditioners. The health department has urged the public to monitor household freshwater collectibles such as sun shades, the base rail of sliding doors of aluminium windows, rain harvesting pipe of damaged cement paste on the top, pet animals tray, flower vase and junk. Clinically, dengue fever symptoms can feature severe headache, retro orbital pain (behind eyes), severe joint and muscle pain (known as bone breaking fever). Internally, the dengue virus infects platelets generating an army that then destroys normal platelets to lead on to dengue hemorrhagic fever and the lethal condition of dengue shock syndrome for which there is no specific treatment. In addition to the deployment of field-level staff throughout the year for vector control in collaboration with malaria eradication units, the inter-sectoral coordination effort also involves other key departments such as LAD, PWD and Education Department. Since October 2019, schools have been observing Fridays as ‘dry days’ with students given lessons on how to prevent spread of dengue such as cleaning containers where fresh water gets accumulated. Mosquito nets, mosquito repellents, native herbal mosquito repellents remedial measures were also recommended to prevent mosquito bite. The department is also forging community partnerships involving the public, NGOs, NSS and SHGs to combat the vector.

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 11:22:22 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/forging-community-partnerships-key-in-combating-dengue-vector/article65419961.ece