It’s dengue all over!

By ZRG | Updated: Oct 24, 2012, 15:55 PM IST

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi

The sudden demise of Bollywood’s ‘King of Romance’ Yash Chopra on October 21 due to dengue has caused panic among all strata of people in India and has raised a big question mark on the government efforts to check the rise of the mosquito-borne diseases.

According to the information furnished by health ministry as on October 22, 2012, the national capital reported 678 cases of dengue and two deaths. The death toll for Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and other states stood at two, one and four respectively. According to the health ministry report as on September 26, 2012, 28,292 cases of dengue were reported in 2010 and 110 people lost their lives to this deadly fever. In 2011, 18,860 cases were reported, while the death toll jumped to 169. The figures are startling.

In a detailed state wise analysis, over the past two years, Tamil Nadu lost maximum 56 people to the deadly fever. Punjab, Orissa and Maharashtra were next worse hit states losing 51, 42 and 36 people respectively.

Highlighting the symptoms associated with dengue, Dr. Rajesh Meena, consultant, internal medicine at Moolchand Medcity, cautions, “A person who is having sudden high grade fever, accompanied by nausea, body ache and stomach pain for more than two days are advised to carry lab test immediately after consulting a doctor.”

There are other ominous signs as well. “Other symptoms accompanied with dengue patients are unexplained itching, nausea-vomiting suggestive of gall bladder inflammation or liver inflammation. Presence of restlessness (oxygen deficiency in the brain), abdominal pain and black stools (GI bleeding) signifies urgency,” warns Dr. Meena at Moolchand.

A look back at the rise of this outbreak shows that dengue haemorrhagic fever was first reported in India in 1963 from Kolkata city. Since then several outbreaks of dengue fever were reported from India with a major epidemic of dengue hemorrhagic fever occurring in Delhi in 1996 when 10,252 cases and 423 deaths were reported.

Dengue is a viral disease. It is transmitted by the infective bite of Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Man develops disease after five–six days of being bitten by an infective mosquito. It occurs in three forms: Dengue Fever, Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever and Dengue Shock Syndrome.

The Government of India had developed a ‘Long Term Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Dengue’ in the country and sent it to the state(s) on January 2007 for implementation. The government has also established 170 sentinel surveillance hospitals with laboratory support for augmentation of diagnostic facility for dengue in endemic state(s). All these are linked with 13 apex referral laboratories with advanced diagnostic facilities for back up support. In order to maintain the uniformity and standard of diagnostics in these laboratories IgM MAC ELISA test kits are provided for diagnosis of dengue.

Further detailing the tests, Dr Meena at Moolchand says, “IgM blood test may take five days to become positive. Therefore in the first five days all dengue tests may be negative. One should not take aspirin in the suspected case of dengue as it can further disturb the platelet functions. The period of maximum risk for shock is between the third and seventh day of illness. This tends to coincide with the resolution of fever.”

Emphasising that government policies are not in place, Dr MP Sharma, head of internal medicine and gastroenterology at Rockland Hospital, Delhi, laments, “Government comes into action only when hue and cry is raised. Concrete actions are not taken on time. Fogging processes should start as soon as the rainy season stops so that the mosquitoes are not allowed to breed.”

Concurring with Dr. Sharma, Dr. Pankaj Soni, consultant, internal medicine at Max Med centre, Delhi, reiterates, “The government has definitely woken up late. The rise in dengue is basically attributed to improper drainage and sanitation system. It’s high time that the health authorities should engage in door–to-door checking and fogging activities.”