Tamil Nadu: After drought, fevers of the first rains

Published: 19th August 2017 01:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th August 2017 11:37 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

Fever cases in 2017

Dengue 6515

Japanese encephalitis  22

Malaria 62

Chikungunya 44

Last year, 2,531 cases of dengue and five deaths were reported in Tamil Nadu, as per Vector Diseases Control Programme data. This year, till August 6, there have been 5,968 dengue cases recorded and one death.

Kerala’s dengue epidemic is spilling over into Tamil Nadu, with districts bordering that state reporting high incidence of the mosquito-borne disease this year. Thus Salem, Erode, Coimbatore, Kanyakumari and Namakkal are all witnessing dengue surges. Chennai too has been buffeted by the dengue outbreak in Nellore-Tirupati belt in Andhra Pradesh.

Director of public health Dr K Kolandaswamy says that while swine flu, Japanese encephalitis (JE) and dengue are the main concerns in the northern states, in Tamil Nadu it is dengue that is keeping the health officials busy. Other than dengue, there have been sporadic cases of other fevers such as leptospirosis, typhoid and malaria in Tamil Nadu this year.

As the southwest monsoon brought the first spells of rain, dengue arrivals spurted in the state’s hospitals. The outbreak is keeping district health officials on their toes. Nagercoil, for instance has handled 512 dengue positive cases so far this year, 94 so far this month. Dr Madhusoodhanan, joint director of medical services said July was particularly desperate as fever cases streamed in after the first rains. In one 24-hour period over a Saturday, 150 fever cases were admitted and teams were dispatched to check stagnation points for mosquito breeding.

The drought in rural Tamil Nadu is a major factor aggravating dengue in Tamil Nadu this year, with people storing water to tide over the shortage. The dengue vector Aedes aegyptii mosquito breeds in stagnant water.

The first rains trigger a surge in fevers, and with dengue rearing its head in the south, doctors are alert when patients come in with symptoms of fever, body ache and headaches. Dr G Anitha, the dean of MGMGH in Tiruchy, said that as many as 110 fever cases were being treated at MGMGH last Sunday, of which 15 patients from Tiruchy, Pudukkottai, and Perambalur districts turned out to be dengue positive. The previous week had seen 88 fever cases.

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