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Times of India
23 July 2010
By Pushpa Narayan & Julie Mariappan
Chennai, India

Corporation Denies Outbreak Of Dengue, But Private Hospitals Claim To Have Treated At Least 65 Such Cases Since May
It is fever season in Chennai, thanks to the rains, with vector–borne diseases including malaria, dengue and chikunguniya registering a rise.

The Chennai Corporation has recorded more than 1,100 malaria cases in the last two months and more than 2,877 cases in the last six months. The other districts of the state recorded 1,875 cases, with 848 cases in Ramanthapuram alone. The Directorate of Public Health has also recorded 427 chikunguniya cases and 566 cases of dengue in the state.

Though the corporation’s health department maintains there have been no dengue cases in the last few months and reported just six cases for the year, statistics emerging from city hospitals tell another story. At least four private hospitals, particularly those treating children, have each admitted and treated more than 15 dengue cases since May.

“We have been reporting all cases of vector–borne diseases along with lab reports and patient address to the civic body on a weekly basis. But we have been strictly told not to give out information to the media,” said a senior doctor at the Apollo Children’s Hospital.

At the Kanchi Kamakoti Child’s Trust Hospital, doctors say they have been seeing both malaria and dengue cases. “This happens in July every year. In fact, this is just the beginning of the city’s fever season,” said hospital paediatrician said Dr S Balasubramanian. His counterpart in Sooriya Hospital, Dr Deepa Hariharan, added: “Most children with diseases like dengue might not require admission. But in some the platelets go down drastically. They are put on drips and monitored at the hospital.”

But officials, including corporation health officer Dr Kuganantham, denied this. “There is no outbreak of any vector–borne disease in the city. We have not been receiving any reports.” The corporation claims to have intensified fogging and spraying exercises since last week. “The health department has registered 516 malaria cases in May. It shot up to 622 in June,” said A Selvaraj, public relations officer, Chennai Corporation. The officials don’t have a count for July, but said that more people are reporting sick.

The fogging exercise has been intensified in all zones by pooling in staff from three divisions. Two vehicle–mounted fogging machines each have been deployed in 10 zones, apart from 220 other fogging machines and 350 hand–held spraying machines. Health department has also got Gambusia fish from the fisheries department to control larval density in overhead tanks and wells in residential buildings. However, insiders reveal that 70% of staff do not go for doorto–door checks.

Entomologists complain that mosquito density has gone up in almost all residential areas. That’s clearly because the civic body has not employed adequate men for fogging and spraying operations. “We hardly have one or two staff in each ward. The total number of streets in some areas are more than 300,” a corporation staff said.

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