40 die of dengue in Tamil Nadu, activists say numbers could be double
Healthcare activists say cases are underreported and the death toll could be double the number.india Updated: Oct 11, 2017 18:44 IST
Forty people have died and 11,744 cases of dengue reported in Tamil Nadu till October 9, the state government said on Wednesday, as the southern state battles one of its worst outbreak of the painful mosquito-borne viral fever.
As many as 50,000 health staff, including doctors, have been spread out to spread awareness and check breeding of the disease-spreading mosquito, which thrives in humid conditions. Dengue cases normally peak during monsoon.
Healthcare activists say cases are underreported and the death toll could be double the number.
Demanding that the state government declare the outbreak a health emergency, the state’s former director of health head S Elango, who heads the Tamil Nadu unit of Indian Public Health Association, said more than 100 people had died of the fever this year so far.
Dengue is endemic to south India as the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes – the female carries the virus -- was high in these areas, with Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu being the worst-hit. But over the time, places such as Delhi, too, have reported severe outbreaks.
The state government, which has faced criticism for not doing enough, has ordered door-to-door search to prevent mosquito breeding. Awareness and prevention campaigns, too, have been launched.
The dengue-spreading mosquito breeds in fresh water and is most active for around two hours after sunrise and several hours before sunset.
A health department official said health inspectors, nurses, doctors, mobile medical teams were pressed into service. At least 5,000 of them were in state capital Chennai alone.
So far, the health department has issued 20,000 notices and fined several people for failing to prevent mosquito breeding. In most cases, they had allowed water to accumulate in open containers.
The notices were a step towards creating awareness to check breeding of Aedes aegypti, health secretary J Radhakrishnan said.
The government, he said, was empowered to take punitive action against anyone found guilty of negligent acts likely to spread infection of diseases dangerous to life, he said.
“If they fail to follow, there are chances that they will have to spend six months in prison, and as well pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh,” Radhakrishnan told mediapersons on Tuesday.
It wasn’t enough, said Elango, who worked in public health for 30 years. Declaring the outbreak a public health emergency would draw the attention of national and international health agencies as the state government was not equipped to battle the spread.
Total eradication of the Aedes female mosquito was the only solution and for that the state government needed help, Elango said.
Dengue has fluey symptoms such as abrupt onset of high fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pains, measles-like rash over chest and upper limbs and vomiting. The more dangerous form of the disease is the dengue haemorrhagic fever, which may cause death due to excessive internal bleeding.