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Friday, August 5, 2011

Dengue makes an early appearance this season

Mumbai: BMC may have been successful in getting a grip on malaria cases this monsoon, but city doctors are now worried about the rising number of dengue cases. 

    According to BMC statistics, more than 115 Mumbaikars had to be admitted to various city hospitals since the start of monsoon this year compared to 96 in the corresponding period last year. While fewer people have died due to dengue, what is surprising is the fact that the virus generally gets more rampant in the latter half of monsoon and not June and July. 
    What is also worrying doctors is that several patients suffering from dengue do not test positive for it, which makes diagnosis and treatment difficult. 

    "We have been getting a lot of dengue cases," said Dr Hemant Thacker, who consults in Breach Candy and Bhatia hospitals. "After viral infections, dengue charts second in the list of diseases currently," he said. 
    Doctors said that unlike earlier, when the disease used to be a feature of the August-October months, it has now become endemic. "Just like 

malaria, we see dengue cases round the year now. They do increase in the monsoon months, but it's no surprise that dengue cases are higher this time than last July," said Dr Altaf Patel, who 
consults in Jaslok Hospital. 
    While anopheles or malaria-spreading mosquitoes need large water bodies to breed in, stagnant water and excess humidity, dengue-spreading aedes agyptes does not need excess water, and can breed in small containers, tyres and flower pots. Patel attributes the breeding of dengue mosquitoes to the change in the city's environment. 
    "Aedes agyptes needs a bit of cooler 
climate and less rains to breed in. But Mumbai's climate is such that the mosquito breeds even in the standard home containers," he said. 
Another worrying factor that the doctors are noticing now 
is that though all the symptoms point towards dengue, many patients test negative for the disease. "We get many patients who have clear symptoms of dengue but test negative. In such a case, we have to go ahead with diagnosis depending on the symptoms alone. The patients do respond to the treatment," said Dr Thacker. 
    Dr Jayanti Shastri, head of microbiology at civic-run Nair Hospital said that it depends on when the patient goes for a test. "The antigen detection test, which is done from day three to day seven of the fever, is very specific and doesn't fail. But it is the antibody detection test, which is done after a week of fever, which is troublesome. It has varied sensitivity and specificity, which may show no dengue in a patient who has the disease," she said.


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