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Epidemic spells big business

For stores selling mosquito repellents and for pathology laboratories, the dengue outbreak has come as a windfall, reports Gaurav Choudhury.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2006 04:56 IST

Even a near-epidemic can be a boon for some. For stores selling mosquito repellents and for pathology laboratories, the dengue outbreak — and the scare accompanying it — has come as a windfall.

Every brand of mosquito repellent, in every form, is doing brisk business. "The sale of repellents is definitely rising. It must have risen by at least 20 per cent during the last three weeks as compared to the same period last year,” Dabur CEO Sunil Duggal told the Hindustan Times. Dabur has reported a 20 per cent rise in sales of its mosquito repellent cream Odomos.

Other products such as mosquito coils and electrical mosquito repellents have also reported major increase in sales. A top executive of an FMCG company producing a leading electrical mosquito repellent device, who did not wish to be identified, said the sale of his product in the national capital region (NCR) has grown by “at least 30 per cent” since the outbreak of dengue.

The unexpected rise in demand of these products has led to shortages in certain areas. The supply lines are badly stretched. "Stocks are all being used up. We are witnessing supply constraints in some categories, specially the coils,” said Duggal. 

"Earlier we sold about six tubes of mosquito repelling ointments a day. Since the outbreak of dengue, we are selling around 150 tubes daily," added Nikhil Seth who runs the chemist’s Ganpati Medicos at Vasundhara Enclave in East Delhi. "Since the distributor visits only once in three days, we are now purchasing directly from the wholesaler to meet the growing demand."

The number of people visiting pathology laboratories to get their blood samples tested for dengue has also increased significantly. “On an average we get 10 cases daily of suspected dengue victims. In the past three months we have received samples of 1,028 suspected dengue patients, of which 139 have positive results,” Dr Arvind Lal, of Dr Lal’s Path Labs told HT.

But others maintained the figure was considerably higher. A well-known pathology laboratory in Mayur Vihar revealed it received 526 blood samples for dengue testing on Thursday, and another 501 on Friday. There are about 2000 pathological laboratories in Delhi, and all of them are working overtime to cope with the flood of people who suspect they have contracted dengue.

Inevitably some of the laboratories are slipping up. There have been instances of two laboratories reporting different results for blood samples of the same person. When information technology professional Pawan K Lalchandani, whose wife had high fever, got her blood tested at one laboratory, the report claimed her platelet count was low — a sure indication of dengue.

He sought a second opinion from another laboratory. "This one reported normal platelet count ruling out any chance of the disease. The fever has since subsided,” said Lalchandani.

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