Chennai: Tamil Nadu health authorities have warned residents of Chennai to be on guard against dengue. Health volunteers are conducting a door to door awareness programme to make people aware of the dreaded disease.
The city has recorded close to 200 dengue cases in two months. Notably, the dengue season in Chennai generally commences in July and peaks in October-November. The northeast monsoon rains in November wash away the eggs and larvae from the breeding spots.
Children below 15 years of age are most likely to contract the disease. Tondiarpet, Ambattur, Teynampett, Kodambakkam, and Adayar health zones are dengue hotspots.
In August, 100 people caught dengue and 38 of them were children under 15 years of age. In September, of the 96 dengue cases reported, 51 were under 15.
Nonetheless, State Chief Vector Control Officer, S. Selvakumar, told IANS that “this is not that uncommon and in the past 11 years we had 20 dengue outbreaks”.
A study titled “Dengue in Chennai – A retrospective Study” included data only from sentinel surveillance hospitals which were created to monitor rate of occurrence of specific diseases.
Mosquito menace helpline no 1913 of the Chennai corporation also received a large number of calls. This was even after the civic body has increased fogging in the corporation hotspots and other places.
Intermittent rain is reason for the sudden spurt in the disease. The Aedes mosquito which is the agent for dengue breeds in fresh water. Following the rains, open pots, terraces with pools of water, storage drums, and covers turned to be breeding grounds for the larvae.
Chennai has 3,621 domestic breeding checkers (DBC) who go home to home to check on the open water tanks, terraces with water pools, and other places where freshwater is standing, paving the way for breeding. Each DBC has to visit 80 homes a day but Health authorities said that these DBCs are also involved in Covid vaccination drives, which leads to them skipping on the routine checks that they have to do to prevent waterlogging in open areas.
A senior health officer told IANS that both Covid and dengue have several similar symptoms and if there is joint pain, it could be dengue fever. The treatment starts immediately as there are possibilities of haemorrhage due to dengue.