Scanty nightwear to blame for rise in dengue cases

Published: 29 October, 2013 01:47 IST | Anup Satphale |

After facing flak for increasing number of patients, civic officials pin the fault on insufficient clothes that people, specially men, wear to sleep; incidentally, the dengue mosquito bites only in the day

The latest claim by civic health officials can certainly make the Weird Science section of a medical journal. After coming under attack for increasing number of dengue patients in the city, Pune Municipal Corporation seems to have got to the bottom of the problem where it saw that there weren’t enough clothes covering Puneites, which was making them susceptible to be feasted upon by mosquitoes — the carrier of the disease. 

Representational pic

According to PMC officials, people who expose a lot of their body while sleeping are falling prey to dengue. And since men choose to be less encumbered by clothing while hitting the sack, it is making them vulnerable to bites by Aedes aegypti, the mosquito responsible for inflicting dengue.

Maximum exposure
They corroborated this theory by citing statistics available with them about dengue, which say more men than women have contracted it (see box: Fact Check). “If we consider the data with us now, most dengue patients are male. And if we consider the majority of these males, they have been infected with dengue due to more exposure of skin. Common guidelines to prevent dengue include that people cover themselves fully while sleeping.

Fight the bite: Fumigation is one of the ways to get rid of breeding grounds

But men wear less clothes while sleeping and that may be the reason that more of them have been affected than women,” said Dr Shyam Satpute, assistant medical officer of health, PMC, who is also in charge of the vector-borne disease control department of PMC.

Fact Check
Number of total dengue cases recorded within city limits since January

No of cases reported among men

No of cases reported among females 

Action taken
All said and done, the civic authority is indeed trying to rein in dengue. PMC has identified a total of 70,075 mosquito breeding spots. Of this, 30,901 are fixed and 39,174 temporary. The corporation also discovered that most cases are from Warje area. “Most ongoing construction sites are in Warje so a majority of the cases have been reported from there.

We have also initiated strict action against the builders (responsible for unhygienic site conditions) by filing cases against them,” said Dr S S Ambekar of state health department which is helping out the PMC.  Since January, PMC has filed 25 cases against builders in the city, in view of unclean sites.

Experts junk PMC claim
Medical experts, however, discredited the PMC’s reasoning, saying Aedes aegypti mosquito, which causes dengue, is active during day, not night. Doctors also said that to be able to proffer such a “general statement” as valid cause, there needed to be a clinical survey to find out if any such possibility — less clothes causing dengue — exists.

“There is no survey that concludes males are more prone to dengue. And since Aedes bites in daytime, wearing less clothing during night is not an issue. If, say, those exposed to the outside environment due to the nature of their profession are contracting dengue, then there is a probability that males working outdoors are getting infected more than housewives, but no such survey has happened either,” said D B Kadam, head of department, medicine, Sassoon Hospital.

Kadam said that data was needed before arriving at any conclusion. “There is need of a survey on sub-clinical infections, which may give some insight that can shed light on the matter,” he added. 

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