No cases of chikungunya, says CMCH Dean

Special Correspondent

`Prepared to handle any eventuality'

COIMBATORE: No case of chikungunya, a disease caused by a virus spread by mosquitoes, has been admitted to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH), its Dean, T.P. Kalaniti, told The Hindu on Thursday.

Pointing out that the disease was assuming the proportions of a pandemic, Dr. Kalaniti said the first of these cases were reported from Bidar in Karnataka and it spread to Gulbarga in the same State. The Dean said nearly 800 cases were reported last week in Chitradurga.

(While Bidar and Gulbarga are in northern Karnataka and close to the border with Andhra Pradesh (A.P.), Chitradurga is closer to Anantapur in A.P.)

Though one person in Anantapur died of the fever and other attendant problems caused by the virus, it was not a fatal disease, the Dean said. There was, however, no vaccine for this problem. Cases have been detected in Chennai and also Salem.

The aedes egypti mosquito that bred in stagnant fresh water transmitted the virus. This mosquito was also the vector (carrier) of the dengue virus. Stagnant fresh rainwater in discarded coconut shells, tyres and bottles and drinking water stored in open containers are ideal breeding ground for these mosquitoes.

"The alpha virus that causes the disease is transmitted through mosquito sting during the day (aedes egypti stings only during the day)," said Dr. Kalaniti. Apart from the known transmission route (mosquito - infected person - mosquito) in a particular locality, the virus could reach areas far away if the vehicles to these places carry the mosquitoes. For instance, buses from Salem to Coimbatore might have these mosquitoes and therefore fogging of vehicles to kill these was necessary.

Health officials in the district, including those in the local bodies, had been gearing for a host of diseases that broke out after the monsoon set in during the first week of June. Already, a private hospital in the city reported four cases of dengue, unusual given the normal sporadic incidence of one in two to three months.

The Dean said the hospital was fully prepared to meet any incidence of chikungunya across the district. He asked the people to watch out for symptoms such as mild but persistent headache, fever and severe joint pain that forced people to bend their knees.

The usual precautionary measures such as draining fresh water from discarded items should be followed.