Dengue clusters in 3 districts keep Health dept. on its toes

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Amidst COVID-19, the Health Department is on alert with monsoon-time diseases dengue fever and leptospirosis being reported from areas where summer rain has been copious.

Already there have been three suspected and two confirmed dengue deaths in the State besides 885 confirmed and 2,126 suspected cases till May 12.

Reports of more clusters have come in from Ernakulam, Kannur, and Kasaragod. With most of the departments and personnel involved in the fight against COVID-19, communicable diseases, tackled by the Health Department in pre-monsoon activities, are perhaps not receiving the required attention.

As problems are being identified, it is being dealt with, said the official. There were issues of slag in waste disposal, which lay bare unused containers open that collected water.

Breeding sources

There were also issues of the use of tarpaulin in keeping things covered. Water gets collected in the grooves if not properly cleaned. This had led to several breeding sources of mosquitoes.

Health authorities expect dengue fever cases to reach the peak this year following its three-yearly peak. Already, there are three times the cases compared to last year this time.

There have been 384 suspected and 189 confirmed leptospirosis cases, with 16 suspected and four confirmed deaths.

Dearth of workers

However, senior health officials told The Hindu that the vector-borne diseases are being attended to in the same vigour as earlier. There are problems in getting workers on the ground, especially in the pineapple and rubber plantations in Ernakulam where there have been a small outbreak. But the Health Department has engaged Aarogya Sena workers formed at the ward level to overcome most of the problems.

An awareness campaign involving people’s representatives at the Assembly and ward levels is on to sensitise people to the need to avoid rainwater stagnation and maintain clean surroundings.

“The dengue virus carrying mosquitoes do not have a flight of more than 150-200 metres. Hence, if every person keeps their premises clean, people can avoid dengue infection,” a senior health official said.

“However, freshwater is allowed to collect in scattered scrap materials around houses that could become a source of breeding for dengue vector.”

In Ernakulam, dengue clusters have been found in the eastern hill belts of Varapetty, Payipra, and Kothamangalam. The index cases this year were found during the period of water scarcity, when people left open water containers. From April 1 to May 3, 141 suspected cases of dengue and 20 confirmed cases were confirmed in Ernakulam alone.

With intermittent rain now, freshwater sources are abundant. Following the lockdown, freshwater is getting collected at scrap materials and such things lying unattended at many places. From April 1 to May 3, 141 suspected cases of dengue and 20 confirmed cases were confirmed in Ernakulam alone.

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