Chikungunya fever seems to be the cause of 90 deaths registered in Kerala since July, said the central medical team camping in Alappuzha district.
"Chikungunya has come back to Kerala after 30 years. The present outbreak of fever is due to chikungunya," National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme director PA Joshi told reporters on Saturday.
He, however, added that only autopsy reports that were expected soon would confirm whether chikungunya, a virulent African strain of a mosquito-borne disease, indeed was the cause of the deaths. Chikungunya is Swahili for that which bends, a reference to the bent posture of patients who suffer from severe joint pain as a result of the affliction.
His remarks followed those of central Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss who had Friday firmly denied the deaths in the state were due to chikungunya.
Joshi is leading a team of central health officials that has visited the worst affected district of Alappuzha. "There is no reason for any undue worry because this is a viral disease and one that can be treated at home.
"People should use mosquito repellents and those who are having fever should take paracetamol and vitamin B-complex tablets and also continue a regular diet with a lot of fluids," said Joshi.
"Apart from chikungunya, Kerala is endemic to dengue fever and rat fever too," he added.
Since the vector density in Kerala is 30 percent higher, the need of the hour is to contain the outbreak of the epidemic.
"We feel that it could be contained in 10 days. We have asked the state government to form seven medical teams which would look after two districts each to see that the anti-mosquito drive is taken up," added Joshi.
He said the central government would extend all help to contain the disease. Mosquito nets, testing kits and other essential items were being distributed in the affected areas.
The disease, first detected in the state July 27, has affected about 100,000 people so far.
The coastal districts of Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Kollam are the worst hit. The fever has also been reported from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
India declared chikungunya an epidemic Friday.