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14 August 2010
By Pratibha Masand
Worried citizens flock to hospital
Mounting Malaria Toll Prompts People To Go In For Blood Tests; Authorities Up The Ante Against Vector
Panic over the spike in malaria cases is palpable at the civic–run Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli. Serpentine queues of patients have become a regular feature at this speciality hospital for infectious diseases. People are not taking any chances and are rushing to get themselves tested for monsoon ailments, even if they have common cold or slight fever, said a civic official. Last year, there was similar rush outside the H1N1 outpatient department.
"My son has been down with fever for the last two days. Though the temperature isn’t very high, I want to get all the tests done," said a housewife from Chinchpokli, while waiting for her turn to get her seven–year–old son screened.
The number of samples being tested every day are testament to malaria fear. "Almost 8,000 slides come in for tests daily. While half of these are tested at Kasturba, the rest are sent to private labs," said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner.
A total of 7,4032 blood smears have been collected since the beginning of this month. Of these, 6,585 tested positive for malaria. "Every person who comes to a civic hospital with slight fever is now being screened for malaria, dengue and jaundice," said a BMC official.
Statistics made available by the BMC’s dispensaries in response to an RTI query show that diarrhoea affected more people in the city. Between April 2009 and March 2010, diarrhoea affected 1,04,377 Mumbaikars while 19,867 people fell prey to malaria.