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Surge in store, warns data as dengue cases cross 5k

Nearly 1/10th are active cases; confident MaSu says numbers will be below 6k.

Surge in store, warns data as dengue cases cross 5k

Representative image (File)

CHENNAI: The northeast monsoon is still weeks away, but the number of dengue cases in Tamil Nadu has already breached the 5,000 mark, of which nearly 500 are active cases. If data from the past teaches any lesson, this could be an inflection point from where the numbers could rise at an alarming pace if adequate preventive measures are not taken.

As of October 15, the State has reported 5,213 dengue cases this year. Of these, 487 are active cases, and four dengue deaths have been reported thus far. While the Health Department claims that the situation is under control, officials admitted that several districts, including Chennai, have been witnessing a surge in the recent past.

“Chennai and the neighbouring districts, Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, are seeing a higher number of cases, so is the situation in Madurai, Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Tiruchy and Thanjavur,” a highly placed official from the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine told DT Next.

To understand why the numbers recorded before the NE monsoon is seen as a key indicator, it is important to look at the past experience.

Last year, the number of cases went up from 4,771 till October to 6,430 by the end of the year. The State reported 6,039 cases in 2021 – which stood at 2,773 on September 24. The spike was even sharper in 2019, going up from 2,951 cases on October 8 to 8,527 in the next 11 weeks. Such surges have been common in the years prior to that: from 2,676 dengue cases on October 28 to 4,486 in 2018, and from 12,945 on October 15 to 23,035 in 2017. The monsoon, especially sporadic showers that often lead to rainwater stagnation in discarded containers, crevices, etc., creates a large number of breeding spots for aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads dengue.

However, citing numbers, Health Minister Ma Subramanian said on Monday that dengue cases have been coming down in the State and added: “With only two months left for the monsoon season to end, the cases will not cross 6,000,” he said.

Speaking to DT Next, Dr D Suresh Kumar, infectious diseases specialist at Apollo Hospitals, noted that most fever cases that they are treating were dengue and influenza.

“We have also started seeing cases of chikungunya in the last few days. The chances of these illnesses getting severe is 7-10 per cent but it is important that people don’t self-medicate and delay the appropriate treatment,” he said. He also warned against complacency, pointing out how the platelet count drops after the fever subsides.

Shweta Tripathi
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