Tamil Nadu has reported 4,500 cases of dengue so far this year, official data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shows higher than the 4,486 cases reported in 2018.
Five deaths have been reported till now (3 more fever related deaths being investigated for dengue). Many cases of dengue are underreported or misclassified, hence the numbers can only give a partial picture of the dengue epidemic.
In 2017, 23,294 cases and 65 deaths were reported in the state, the highest in nearly a decade. Dengue was first reported in the country in 1956 in Vellore district in Tamil Nadu and now it is endemic to most of India.
Despite the increased awareness about the fever, its causes and ways to control it, there is an outbreak every year, taking more lives.
“Dengue is very difficult to eradicate. The only option we have right now to control dengue is eliminating Aedes mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus. For the success of any health programme, community involvement is important.
People should eliminate mosquito breeding grounds in their homes and the government should take care of public areas,” says Dr Santhosh Kumar, Scientist, ICMR - National Institute of Epidemiology.
Dengue follows a seasonal and cyclical epidemic pattern and dengue outbreak in Tamil Nadu generally starts in June and peaks from September to November.
During 2017, Coimbatore and Kanniyakumari districts were worst hit by dengue. But this year it is the districts up north like Vellore, Thiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Chennai, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri which have been most affected by dengue.
A report titled ‘The National Guidelines for Clinical Management of Dengue Fever’ by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, says that the Aedes albopictus mosquito has also been found to transmit the virus, which breeds both in man-made water receptacles and natural habitats like tree holes and bamboo stumps.
Safe methods of tackling the menace include biological means such as fish that eat the mosquito larvae, chemical sprays and other source reduction methods.
Wolbachia bacteria helps suppress virus replication in mosquitoes and is a promising means to control dengue transmission. Research on this is underway.
A nationwide serological survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) observed that dengue transmission was high in the southern, western and northern states. Dengue is endemic in more than 100 countries and according to WHO, cases have increased by almost 30 times in the last 50 years.
- Incubation period of 4-10 days after the bite
- Symptoms can last for two to seven days
- Flu-like illness which may progress to potentially lethal forms like Dengue Shock Syndrome and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever
- Even asymptomatic infected individuals can transmit the virus through the Aedes mosquito
- The eggs of the Aedes mosquito remain active in dry environments for nearly a year and hatch once they come into contact with water
- Secondary dengue infection by other types of the dengue virus increases the risk of developing severe forms of dengue
- High fever of 104 °F along with a rash, nausea and vomiting, pain behind eyes, severe headache, swollen glands, muscle and joint pains
- In severe forms there may be respiratory distress, plasma leaking, fluid accumulation, plasma leak and organ impairment
- For severe dengue, the key symptoms appear three to seven days after first symptoms occur in the form of decrease in body temperature to 100 °F accompanied by blood in vomit, rapid breathing, severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding gums, fatigue and restlessness.
- The next 24 to 48 hours are critical for the individual and intense monitoring by medical professionals is required
- The primary cause of death in patients with dengue is capillary leakage which causes blood deficiency leading to multi-organ failure
- There is no specific treatment or vaccine for dengue fever
- Patients must take rest and drink lots of fluids
- Blood transfusion may be required in severe cases
- Paracetamol can be taken to bring down fever and reduce joint pains. However, aspirin or ibuprofen should not be taken since they can increase the risk of bleeding
- Papaya leaf and hill neem juice are believed to help bring down fever
News Research Department