Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dengue Outbreak in India - epidemic?

Federal Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss urged people not to panic, saying the situation was under control. He was speaking after talks in the capital, Delhi, where 14 of 28 recent dengue deaths have occurred. Nearly 500 cases of dengue have been reported. Sixteen new cases were announced in Delhi on Tuesday, a day after a massive drive to contain dengue was launched. Dengue fever - carried by mosquitoes - can lead to headaches, high fever and other flu-like symptoms, and even to brain haemorrhage. Meanwhile, the southern state of Kerala is battling a massive outbreak of another mosquito-borne infection - chikungunya disease. Up to 20,000 people are affected in the worst-hit district of the state, authorities say.

Of particular concern in the dengue outbreak has been the fact that India's leading state hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, was found to be a central breeding ground for mosquitoes. More than 30 people have been affected by dengue, including 18 medical staff. One doctor has died. But Mr Ramadoss denied the dengue outbreak amounted to an epidemic. "There is no need to panic," he told reporters in the capital. "That is the most important information I want to give to the general public. "The total number of cases we have recorded so far is about 497 and we will get an update on the figures by the municipal corporation by evening." As well as the deaths in Delhi, Rajasthan state has confirmed seven deaths, Uttar Pradesh four, and Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana one each in recent weeks. Mr Ramadoss called a meeting of health officials from all affected states on Thursday for a detailed assessment of the situation.

With no preventive vaccines available for dengue fever, the authorities are concentrating on cleaning up affected areas before the situation gets out of hand. The state government in Rajasthan has announced free tests for dengue and increased vigilance. Health authorities in Punjab and Haryana issued fresh instructions on mosquito-control and pre-stocking of medicines and intravenous fluids in all hospitals.

Story from BBC

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