The Northeast monsoon has come early for Tamil Nadu this year but along with it arrives a piece of worrying news. With 3400 cases of dengue already reported this year, the short spells of shower and resulting stagnant water, says the Health Department, could lead to around 4500 cases of dengue this year.
The state has already reported three deaths from January this year. Two more deaths, one in Vellore and another in Tiruvallur due to fever, are being evaluated and will add to the existing number if confirmed as dengue. In 2018, Tamil Nadu saw a total of 4486 cases of dengue and 13 deaths. And while the Health Department is confident of containing the number of deaths in 2019, it suspects the case count will be similar.
"This time too the dengue cases will be close to the 2018 figures. We have already reached 3400 cases and there are two months - November and December left," says Director of Public Health Kolandasamy. "If it rains heavily, it will be helpful. It will prevent accumulation of stagnant water," he adds.
Civic bodies across the state meanwhile are imposing fines on residents and owners of building who have not taken adequate precaution against breeding of mosquitoes. The Health Department estimates that a total of Rs 1.5 crore has been collected in fines across the state, Rs 40 lakh of which are from Chennai alone.
"Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram have the highest number of dengue cases so far," says the Director.
The latest dengue death is reported to be that of a 4-year-old in Vellore, who was admitted to the Christian Medical College. The private school she attended has been fined Rs 1 lakh after the Health Department found that their premises was unclean.
Dengue is one of several mosquito-borne diseases. The virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is commonly seen during the monsoons. Some of the most common symptoms of dengue are high-grade fever, joint pain, muscle pain and general fatigue. It can be treated and cured if spotted early. Dengue does not have any vaccine, and hence the treatment is largely based on supportive measures to control the symptoms an individual may have.
The dengue mosquito lays its eggs on the walls of water-filled containers in the house and patio. The eggs hatch when submerged in water and can survive for months. The dengue mosquito can fly several hundred yards looking for water-filled containers to lay their eggs.