Karnataka has more than triple the number of dengue cases from January to June this year compared to the corresponding period last year. And the powers-that-be don’t seem to be taking it seriously enough.
As per the Health Department statistics, the same period in 2012 saw 745 confirmed cases, while this year there have been 2,547 cases so far, including nine deaths.
And the number of suspected cases is also in the same ratio — against 3,733 cases in 2012, the Health Department has identified 11,135 suspected cases this year.
In Bangalore city, there are 372 confirmed cases and 549 suspected cases.
Bangalore Urban District in-charge Minister Ramalinga Reddy, though, said on July 10 that the city had seen only 78 cases of dengue.
These, incidentally, are just the cases officially registered by the state government. Dengue cases in private clinics and hospitals have not even been accounted for, as there is no system of getting these details.
Health Minister U T Khader told Express, “Yes, there is an increase in the number of cases, but it is not alarming. Instructions have been given to all the district health officials to continue the awareness drive on dengue control. From next year, we will begin this activity in January itself as a preventive measure.”
The situation, however, has been very helpful to private hospitals. Every time a patient walks in with fever and symptoms slightly resembling dengue, they are slotted as ‘suspected dengue’, said Dr Sudarshan, Scientific Officer, Vector-Borne Disease, Department of Health and Family Welfare. “After this, they are pressurised to undergo a series of unnecessary tests which burns a big hole in their pockets,” he said.
Dr Sudarshan attributed it to the lack of awareness among patients about the presence of government sentinel surveillance laboratories across the state where tests are conducted for free. He said patients can avail the testing and diagnostic facilities at the sentinel labs while undergoing treatment at private hospitals. “Sentinel labs test patients come directly from hospitals, some of whom may not have fully understood or trusted the treatment they formerly received,” he said.
When asked about why only the government is authorised to provide dengue statistics, he explained the strip method/card test used in these hospitals has very low accuracy. “These are non-specific and non-sensitive tests with approximately 30 to 33 per cent accuracy. It is always recommended that further tests be done.”