There has been nearly a three-fold increase in dengue cases reported in Puducherry this year. Intermittent rainfall over the last couple of months and lack of preparedness have led to the spread of cases across the Union Territory.
According to sources in the government General Hospital, the number of confirmed dengue cases in the Union Territory between January and September was around 1,800, with Puducherry accounting for about 1,400 cases. It was 490 in 2016, 803 in 2015, 1,408 in 2013, 1,063 in 2013, 871 in 2012, 232 in 2011 and 45 in 2010.
Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) director P. Jambulingam said there was an increase in the cases due to the intermittent rainfall as the temperature had become conducive to facilitate breeding of mosquitoes carrying dengue virus. As many as 800 cases were reported in August this year.
“We should be prepared once we get the first few showers. If we do not prevent the fever in the initial days, it will be difficult to control its spread,” he said, adding that a multi-dimensional approach with the involvement of all stakeholders and importantly the community is required to control the fever.
The VCRC, through its survey, has identified high-risk areas which include Lawspet, Villianur, Ariyankuppam, Manaveli, Pillayarkuppam, Iyyankuttipalayam, Boomianpet, Vazhakulam and TV Nagar.
Mr. Jambulingam has called for a multi-dimensional approach to control the spread of dengue. Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the dengue virus breeds in fresh water. According to officials, after the first spell of rain, people should ensure that water is not stored in any discarded plastic container or vessel or pot for more than a week. If stored, the container has to be covered.
Mr. Jambulingam said everyone, including officials of the local administration to health department, educational institutions and self-help groups should take responsibility to contain the spread of dengue. Senior officials at VCRC said, “We should ensure that water does not stagnate in residential areas, office spaces, government or private buildings and their surrounding areas. Everyone should participate in identifying the source areas and keep places dry to control breeding of mosquitoes.
“If we do not address the issue now, we will face a greater challenge during the northeast monsoon.”
During the survey, they had identified that the main source of mosquito breeding as tyres, discarded plastic containers, drums, grinding stones, earthen pots, cement tanks and flower pots.
“Even tender coconuts shells can become a breeding ground,” the officials said.
It was lack of awareness among the public which was also resulting in the failure to control breeding.
Stress on sanitation
Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi has said she was happy to see the municipal commissioners, the Collector, CE PWD and Swatchta and the medical staff from primary health centres working together. “Sanitation is the key to prevent any more cases of dengue in Puducherry. Door-to-door awareness campaign will be carried out. We hope to formulate a good plan for prevention, awareness and treatment by Saturday,” Ms. Bedi said.
She added that they have planned to start source reduction at primary health centres . “Local awareness meetings will be held at high prevalence areas at 8 a.m. and affected families will be involved in source elimination. Besides, meeting at the primary health centres will be held to involve teachers, headmasters, self-help groups to train them. Schools will address this during prayer meetings,” she said.