Mumbai: First showers arrive, so does the threat of dengue

Even as the monsoon begins, the BMC has recorded 30 positive cases of dengue and still more are suspected

Even as the stock of medicines and diagnostic kits ordered under ‘Monsoon schedule’, will reach BMC hospitals by June-end, the Epidemic Cell of the civic body has already recorded 30 positive cases of dengue and still more suspected, this year.

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The BMC has also resorted to fogging to get rid of mosquitoes. File picture for representation
The BMC has also resorted to fogging to get rid of mosquitoes. File picture for representation

The experts say that since communicable and vector-borne diseases have witnessed a change of course they are becoming severe this year, which would make dengue all the more threatening, there need to be efficient preventive actions taken. In the year 2014, dengue had claimed 12 lives and infected over 800 people.

The information provided by the Epidemiology Cell said that until now (since the beginning of 2015), there have been 30 recorded cases in Mumbai, that tested positive post NS1 Antigen and Elisa tests. While the number of patients is less compared to that of the past year, the fact that the rains are yet to hit the city is a possible reason for the downward graph, the cell said.

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Doctors confirmed that they might see an upward graph in the number of patients testing positive as the monsoon starts fully. “We have enough stock of medicines to treat the cases that tested positive as of now. There are patients who are suffering from the symptoms but are yet to be diagnosed with dengue. We have already updated the Ministry of Health regarding the same,” said Dr Mini Khetarpal, in-charge of the Epidemiology Cell.

Sporadic cases have been seen in private hospitals as well. Last week, two patients were discharged from Fortis Hospital, Mulund after taking treatment for 5-7 days. Dr Pradip Shah, physician at the hospital, cautioned people to do a blood test and if a low blood platelet count was seen, to get tested for dengue immediately after prolonged fever and body ache.

“The patients were from Bhiwandi and belonged to the same family. We conducted NS1 and Elisa tests and found them to be positive for dengue. They received timely treatment and were discharged after a week,” said Shah. He added that the break-bone fever, as dengue is called, might escalate once the monsoon starts.

On the other hand, Dr Om Shrivastava, director of the Infectious Diseases Cell at Jaslok Hospital, said that while the cases are part of sporadic reactions seen around the year and the numbers are not showing a trend for concern as of now, it is to be seen how the virus reacts once monsoon hits. “I am attending around 4-5 dengue patients a week these days.

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However, looking at the trend of 2015, it’s confirmed that the communicable and vector-borne diseases are here to stay. The disease might have a change of course once it catches up and we will have to focus on prevention rather than diagnosis and cure,” said Shrivastava.

Prevention activities
The BMC is also working on prevention of dengue and other diseases. Rajen Naringekar, BMC’s insecticide officer said that extensive work has been going on since the past one month to eliminate the probable mosquito breeding grounds.

“We have conducted large scale programmes to remove tarpaulins, odd articles and tires from all the 24 wards of the BMC to remove the possible breeding grounds. Apart from that, we already have our weekly anti-larvae programme for fumigation in the wards,” said Naringekar.

Primary symptoms of dengue
(3 to 15 days after the mosquito bite)
>> Prolonged fever
>> Severe headache
>> Joint pain
>> Muscle and body pain

BMC’s monsoon schedule preparations
>> 70 kits of a dengue test called Elisa
>> 38,745 kits of rapid dengue NS1 antigen detection test kits
>> 4,464 disposable oxygen masks for children
>> 3,567 oxygen masks for adults
>> 54 other related items

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