In less than a month, the number of deaths due to dengue have nearly doubled in the state of Tamil Nadu to 52. This spike in the number of victims, even as the government claims to be firefighting the virus, has fetched it the title of the state with the highest number of dengue deaths.
Health Secretary Radhakrishnan has told the media that the number of dengue deaths in Tamil Nadu currently stands at 52. At the beginning of this month, the number stood at 27, according to media reports. In addition to this, he announced that 80 others had died due to other forms of 'fever'.
Denial and lack of preparedness on the part of the government are the reasons for this present scenario, say medical practitioners.
"It is already too late this year to stop this epidemic and situation will only get worse with rains. We can expect more deaths," says a practitioner from a private hospital in Madurai, who is seeing an increase in number of cases of dengue. "Whatever efforts they are carrying out now will not reflect immediately, it may reduce cases next year. But if they don't continue ensuring that breeding grounds for mosquitoes are eradicated, the problem will persist," he adds.
In addition to this, district are unable to handle critical cases and transfer patients to Chennai hospitals, which are unable to accommodate the growing number of patients.
"Smaller hospitals don't have the staff or equipment to deal with these cases and often fail to diagnose patients correctly," says the practitioner. "If the government continues to remain in denial, the death toll is only bound to increase," he adds.
The health secretary meanwhile argued that it cannot be assumed that all deaths due to fever are linked to dengue.
However when TNM spoke to Director of Public Health Dr Kolandaisamy earlier this month, he admitted that patients cannot die simply due to a fever. "See, there are different kinds of viruses currently doing the rounds that could cause fever. But whatever it is, you can't possibly die at such a young age of just fever and other than dengue, the other viruses are easily treatable. Chances are that it was dengue and the hospital is not diagnosing it as such," he explained.