NEW DELHI: Amidst a widespread dengue scare and the rush at diagnostic centres, health department officials have prescribed a simple test which people can carry out at their homes to determine if they have contracted the vector-borne disease.
The 'Tourniquet test' relies on simple blood pressure to differentiate between seriously ill and uncomplicated cases of dengue fever.
"This simple diagnostic tool can help people determine at home itself whether they have contracted dengue in the initial stages so that they can start taking enough fluids instead of rushing to hospitals for diagnosis," said a health department official.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), too, recommends the tourniquet test as a vital aid for the detection of dengue.
The process entails applying a tourniquet for five-six minutes on the upper arm and looking for red spots appearing on the skin surface of the arm.
"One should count the number of spots or patches that appear. If around 20 spots or more appear on the skin, then that means the person is dengue positive. But the test is not considered to be completely reliable and thus can be used for basic screening purpose," said the official.
Two types of testing kits -- NS1 Elisa and rapid antigen test kits -- are available at hospitals in the city, but the officials are asking people to opt for ELISA-based IgM kits as the rapid-card test results are not reliable and at times give false results.
According to civic and health department officials, there is a trememdous rush at hospitals and it would be helpful if people have some means of diagnosing dengue on their own before they rush to a doctor or hospital.
"There is no need to panic as, in the initial stages, a patient needs fluid management. All dengue patients do not require admission in hospital and blood or platelet transfusion.
"If there are no bleeding manifestations in terms of bleeding from nose, gums, mouth, under the skin, or in vomit, urine or stool then, even if one's platelet count falls to 20,000, one should not panic," said an AIIMS doctor.
Dengue treatment is based on fluid management and platelets are required to be transfused if the count drops below 10,000 and and then also, only if there are signs of bleeding.
According to official data, the number of dengue cases reported in Delhi this year till September 5 was 1,259 with two persons having succumbed to the disease.