CHENNAI: A five-member central team deputed to examine the dengue situation in Tamil Nadu today termed the 40 deaths since January due to the fever as "minimal" and said there was no need to panic.
The team said it had been informed by state officials that there were 40 deaths out of the 12,000 cases of dengue reported since January.
This, it said, did not warrant any panic and stressed on more public cooperation in eradicating the fever spread by mosquitoes.
During discussions with the team members, the state government sought Rs 256 crore from the Centre to enhance its dengue control activities.
"The death of 40 (people) out of the 12,000 (cases) is minimal. It is nothing. No need to create panic," Professor of Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and a member of the team Ashutosh Biswas told reporters.
He said the team had come here to support the state government and also "examine the surge of dengue cases" in Tamil Nadu.
Several parts of the country, including Kerala, had witnessed outbreak of the fever, he said.
On the deaths, Biswas said a number of factors, including medical negligence, possibility of any other serious disease, secondary infections and possible late referrals, should also be examined.
"The virus causing the fever is generally killed within five days by the body," he said.
State Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said the government had sought "further advice" from the central team on its anti-dengue activities.
Officials, including Principal Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan, apprised the team of the steps taken to curb dengue, the handling of which by the state has come in for sharp criticism from opposition parties.
The team will be visiting a couple of government hospitals here and also hold public interactions during their proposed two-three days' stay, Vijayabaskar told reporters.
If required, they would even extend their stay, he said adding that the government suggested the team members visit other districts such as Salem, Namakkal and Coimbatore.
The team was apprised of the state government's anti-dengue initiatives and told that they were being implemented on a "war-footing", he said.
"We have said we will implement their suggestions. To strengthen our efforts by expanding human resources involved in dengue control activities and procuring more fogging machines. We have sought central funding of Rs 256 crore," he said.
He expressed hope that the funds will be released at the earliest.
Biswas said the state government was taking all measures against the spread of the fever.
"Eradication of dengue is not in the hands of the government, but in the hands of the public. Everybody has to change their habits," he said.
The practice of storing water, especially in drums, should be changed since it aids breeding of mosquitoes and the spread of dengue, Biswas said.
"If we change our habit of collecting fresh water, naturally we will eradicate dengue," he added.