Doctors across the city, who have reported a spurt in the number of pregnant women undergoing treatment for suspected dengue fever, have cautioned women to take precautions against the disease to avoid complications during childbirth.
Private and public hospitals in the city are treating around 15-20 woman suffering from suspected dengue fever at different stages of their pregnancy trimesters.
Doctors said that while the number of pregnant woman undergoing treatment for dengue fever is almost the same as last year, they are worried that the number of cases could increase after the recent long spell of rainfall. One pregnant woman died of dengue last year, said officials.
Dr Wiqar Shaikh, head of the department, internal medicine at Sir JJ Hospital in Byculla said that they are running a 24-hour emergency Out Patient Department to attend to the large number of patients with suspected dengue fever. “A large number of young patients and pregnant woman are undergoing treatment and our medicine ward is almost occupied by fever patients. The primary reason could be the mutation of the strain, which has become genetically stronger,” said Shaikh.
Doctors from Sion Hospital said that they have admitted at least three women last week with low platelet count and high blood pressure. These women tested positive for IgM and IgG tests - preliminary test for dengue - and are awaiting the results of the ELISA tests - an advanced diagnosis tool. Childbirth in women with dengue is a risk because of low platelet counts and high blood pressure.
“A number of women, at various stages of pregnancy are undergoing treatment for acute fever, but haven’t yet tested positive for ELISA tests. Considering the complications involved in childbirth owing to the prevalence of dengue fever, their blood pressure is regularly monitored,” said Dr ND Moulik, head of department, internal medicine at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion.
Doctors have cautioned women in their second and third trimesters to take extreme care, considering the possibility of multi-organ involvement in the case of dengue fever, resulting in a possible abortion and foetus loss. “Fortunately, all our patients were admitted in the early stages of fever. Their condition is stable. We haven’t witnessed any deaths so far,” said Moulik.
Infectious diseases specialists said that pregnant women need to be extremely cautious. “The number of pregnant women undergoing treatment for dengue fever is about the same as last year but the conditions can possibly get aggressive in the later stages of pregnancy. Known as a break-bone disease, dengue fever results in severe weakness in patients, which can be dangerous for pregnant women,” said Dr Om Shrivastava, head of the infectious disease control cell at Jaslok Hospital, Pedder Road.
Shrivastava said that if the treatment is delayed, involvement of multiple-organ infection, internal bleeding and acute respiratory distress syndrome can result in spontaneous abortions as well as other complications among pregnant women.
Why pregnant women need to be cautious
The dengue virus can be dangerous for pregnant women and can result in:
- Low birth weight
- Fever in the early stages of pregnancy can lead to miscarriage
- Dengue haemorrhagic fever increases the chance of mortality for the baby.
- Preterm birth, which hinders the complete growth of the baby.
How to stay safe
- Keep your surroundings clean and drain all stagnant water from around your home
- In case of persistent fever, that lasts more than five days, consult your doctor immediately
- Wear full-sleeved clothes to decrease the possibility of mosquito bites
- Use a mosquito repellent that is safe for pregnant women
- Use mosquito nets at night, spray repellents or burn a mosquito coil to ward off mosquitoes
- Try to stay in a cool room as mosquitoes prefer warm environments.
38 Cases reported in last week
160 Confirmed dengue fever cases from January to September 15
2,058 Suspected dengue fever cases from January to September 15
3 Dengue-related deaths have taken place so far this year