Seven more people died of chikungunya in Kerala on Sunday even as army and navy doctors began efforts to contain the vector-borne disease that has assumed epidemic proportions in the southern and central parts. Sunday’s deaths have taken the toll to to 42.
Fresh deaths were reported from Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur. In the worst hit Pathanmthitta, three more deaths were reported on Sunday.
More than one lakh people have been admitted in various hospitals. The Centre has rushed a high-level team to co-ordinate the relief work and the Union health director is expected to reach the state capital on Monday.
With the fever assuming an epidemic character, the state government has roped in the armed forces to contain the disease. While the medical teams began treating the affected, other units started a cleanliness drive.
Chikungunya is a viral infection, which spreads through the aedes aegypti mosquito. The patient complains of high fever with excessive body pain. The disease can be fatal if the patient develops complications. Around 70 per cent of the affected are either aged or children, who generally have a weak immune system.
According to the doctors, the mosquito-borne fever is not the primary cause of death. The fever aggravates some of the existing ailments, thus causing death.
“Rubber plantations have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes since the advent of the monsoon. Most of the cases are from these areas,” Dr Thomas Philip, government hospital superintendent in Pathanamthitta, said.
More than 100 chikungunya-related deaths were reported in Alappuzha district last year. This year, most of the deaths were reported from Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts. Thirty-six deaths were reported from Pathanamthitta alone.