16 September 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
Dengue is not only giving Delhi authorities sleepless nights, it’s also beginning to sting Mumbaikars. Doctors say the number of cases of dengue–a viral infection spread by Tiger mosquitoes–is steadily rising in the city, which is just about recovering from its worst ever outbreak of malaria in recent times.
"Dengue patients don’t test positive at the onset of the infection. It takes at least four days of fever before the patient tests positive. This makes detection difficult," said Dr Khusrav Bajan, intensivist at Hinduja Hospital.
1 in 2 Has Dengue
- 118 dengue cases were registered in public hospitals between September 1 and 15
- However, private doctors say 50% of their patients test positive for the disease
- 245 cases were reported from August 1–31, with six deaths registered in civic hospitals
- Mumbai’s dengue surge normally lasts till December
Mumbai: For a city that has resembled a sick bay since the onset of the monsoon in the first week of June, dengue is the latest scourge. Some doctors have observed that there was a spurt in dengue cases about two weeks ago, but in the last couple of days, the situation has stabilized. The fever season began with a rise in cases of swine flu, followed by malaria and now the comparatively benign conjunctivitis.
Dr Bhajan of Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, said that out of every 10 patients who walk into the hospital with high fever, at least seven test positive for dengue. "In 50% of cases, the patient requires hospitalization," he said, adding that those with a platelet count of less than 50,000 should seek hospitalization.
According to Dr Amol Manerkar, who is attached to Kohinoor Hospital, Kurla, the spurt in dengue cases began two weeks ago. "Of the patients coming in with high fever and rash, half test positive for dengue," he said. The other half, however, don’t have the tell–tale dengue sign–low blood platelet count. "These patients have high fever and joint pain, but they test negative for both dengue as well as chikungunya. They need treatment on an out–patient basis and are stable," he added.
A senior professor from KEM Hospital said patients who contract dengue require hospitalization, as opposed to those who have malaria, because the drop in platelet count is faster in the former. "Also, no doctors want to take chances as dengue patients stand a serious chance of suffering from bleeding, or dengue shock syndrome,"he added.A dengue test takes at least three to four days to show positivity. Till then, patients are treated symptomatically, said an associate professor of medicine, Sion Hospital.
Blood banks, too, are witnessing a slight spurt in demand, though authorities say the city has enough platelets to treat dengue patients as of now, and the situation is well under control. "We are handing out about 200–250 platelet units a day," said Dr Girish Chaudhary, assistant director, State Blood Transfusion Corporation (SBTC). Platelets have a life of only five days, so they cannot be stored for long. But regular camps help meet demand, he said.