Dengue spreads as Andhra Pradesh loses war on mosquitoes
VIJAYAWADA: Even as the government claims to have taken all measures to control the spread of dengue, a whopping 2,071 cases were registered in the State till September 5. Though the health department claims that the viral disease has not caused any deaths, dengue has spiralled since July, with the number of cases shooting up from 879 to 2,071.
Officials cite the poor sanitation due to recent rains as the reason for rising dengue cases. Contradicting the official claim, S Suresh, convenor of Praja Arogya Vedika (PAV), a social organisation run by a group of ethical medical practitioners, said a study conducted by PAV found as many as 200 people died of dengue alone across the State this year.
“Health officials are not registering dengue deaths as it will reflect poorly on the performance of State government. Our study found that most of the dengue deaths occurred in North Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. People in agency areas and tribal hamlets do not have access to free medical tests for dengue as community health centres and primary health centres are not equipped with mandatory laboratories. They are spending hundreds of rupees on tests alone and those who cannot afford are falling prey to the disease,” he said.
According to the statistics available with the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), till July 22 this year, the total number of confirmed dengue cases was 1,335 and, acknowledging this, the communicable disease spike report in CORE dashboard, has put the number of people suffering from the viral fever at over 100 every week since July 20. From July 20 to 26, 164 dengue cases, from July 27 to August 2, 115 cases and from August 3 to 9, 154 cases were registered in the State. While 1,547 dengue cases were reported by the end of September 2016 in the State, for the corresponding period in 2017, the number of people who were affected by the disease stood at 2,125.
But this year, the situation is worse with the number of cases already touching 2,071. The north coastal region and Rayalaseema districts are the worst-hit.“We are conducting door-to-door medical check-up in all Agency villages in the State. As the monsoon is still active, the breeding of mosquitoes is coomon. Viral fevers such as malaria and dengue will continue to pose a threat. We have deployed health teams in problematic areas and fogging operations are being conducted to prevent breeding of mosquitoes,” said Dr G Savithri, State nodal officer for communicable diseases.
Visakhapatnam district is more vulnerable as it accounts for 70 per cent of dengue cases registered in the State. The district has recorded as many as 1,200 cases till September. In view of the grim situation, leave for district medical and health department officials has been cancelled. Though the district has 90 primary health centres, 15 community health centres and two area hospitals, most of the cases are being referred to the King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam, where a special ward with 10 beds for dengue cases has been set up. According to health officials, the number of dengue cases has come down to 5-6 a day as against 25-30 reported earlier. While in July, the total number of cases reported was 815, they dropped to 672 in August and in September till Saturday, 83 cases were reported.
Speaking to TNIE, epidemiologist Kalyan Prasad said: “The cases have dropped considerably and the situation will be normal in the next 10 days. The situation is under control in tribal areas and some more efforts are needed to deal with dengue in semi-urban and rural areas.” In Vizianagaram district, 89 dengue and 294 malaria cases have been reported this year. Health officials conducted 679 medical camps in August and provided treatment to about 19,610 patients, including 3,073 fever-hit people.
“To effectively deal with seasonal fevers, we have identified 10 hotspot mandals in the district and conducted awareness camps, sanitation drives and special medical camps,” said District Medical and Health Officer Dr Vijaya Laxmi. In Srikakulam district, 55 dengue cases have been reported so far. In the neighbouring district of Vizianagaram, although some deaths were reported in the last two months, officials did not confirm the same. A majority of patients underwent treatment in private hospitals and those in need of transfusion of platelets were sent to Visakhapatnam.
If officials are to be believed, Kurnool district, the worst hit in Rayalaseema region, has registered only five dengue cases this year. In stark contrast to the official claim, private and government hospitals are reportedly being flooded with dengue cases.DM&HO Dr AVVRK Prasad said only five dengue cases were reported and there was not a single death in the district.
A few people who had viral fever were provided medical treatment and discharged, he claimed.
In East Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts, dengue cases are completely under control.
In Krishna, the total number of dengue positive cases reported this year was 25 as against 100 in 2017. Though two suspected dengue deaths were reported, officials did not confirm them. District Collector B Lakshmikantham said: “This year, dengue is completely under control and we have successfully prevented its spread by undertaking anti-larval operations, awareness camps and sanitation drives.”
“Viral fevers, including dengue, are on the decline in East Godavari,” said Dr T Ramesh Kishore, District Coordinator, AP Vaidya Vidhana Parishad and Medical Superintendent, GGH, Rajamahendravaram. In August alone, 10 dengue cases were reported in the Government Regional Hospitals, Tuni and Razole. In Guntur district, 99 dengue cases have been registered this year.
CM warns officials
Taking serious note of the spread of dengue and malaria cases in Visakhapatnam district, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has said he will not hesitate to suspend officials on the spot if they fail to control the diseases by Monday. “Inefficiency, irresponsibility and negligence will not be tolerated. Officials should keep in mind that we are all here for serving the public and act accordingly.
The question of sparing those defaming the government with their sheer negligence will not arise. I don’t want your explanation. I only want results and public satisfaction. It is better to take precautionary measures instead of taking measures after the spread of communicable diseases,’’ Naidu said, during a teleconference with District Collectors, Municipal Commissioners, DM&HOs, MLAs and other higher officials on Saturday.
Visakhapatnam - 1,200
Vizianagaram - 89
Srikakulam - 55
Krishna - 25
East Godavari - 277
Guntur - 99
Kurnool - 5