Dengue Fever and Chikungunya

What is Dengue fever?

Dengue is a tropical disease caused by the dengue virus, a viral infection spread by mosquitos. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. 

Recovery takes two to seven days but in some cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever. This results in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage. Or it can develop into dengue shock syndrome where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.

Dengue is spread by several species of mosquito of the Aedes type. The virus has five different types and infection with one type usually gives immunity to that type but only short-term immunity to the others.

What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is an illness caused by the Chikungunya virus that spreads through mosquito bites. Most people are better within a week. The risk of death is around 1 in 1,000. The very young, old, and those with other health problems are at risk of more severe disease.

The virus is spread between people by two types of Aedes mosquitos. They mainly bite during the day. The virus may circulate within a number of animals including birds and rodents. 

How many cases are there?

Karnataka state has reported the highest number of cases of Chikungunya in the whole of India in September. There have been 10,466 suspected cases reported with 1,076 confirmed.* (This had risen to 1,276 confirmed cases by 22nd November.) In Bangalore there have been 205 suspected cases with 56 confirmed. By 22nd November this figure had risen to 141 cases.

In addition there have been 28,193 suspected cases of Dengue fever with 4,637 cases confirmed within Karnataka state. Of these, 389 were suspected cases within Bangalore and 113 cases confirmed. By 1st December 2016 the confirmed cases in Bangalore had risen to 604 with 5,522 cases reported within the state.

Deaths

In September no deaths had been reported within the city, although there have been deaths due to “dengue shock”. By 22nd November however there had been 8 deaths from Dengue.

Why are there so many cases?

The high number of cases is thought to be due to the “improper disposal of garbage” (aka dumping rubbish) during the rainy season (or actually, all year round).

What are Dengue symptoms?

Symptoms of Dengue include headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, pain behind the eyes, high fever and a characteristic skin rash. BP drops and the platelet count drops.

Children and older people are more vulnerable to bites from the aedes aegypti mosquito which is active during the day.

What are Chikungunya symptoms?

The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

What is being done about it?

The Department of Health and Family Welfare Bangalore Urban District has been raising awareness of preventative measures which can be taken at schools colleges and offices as well as advising the press. Such advice includes taking “preventative methods” and avoiding stagnant water. 

Genius. It would be a lot more effective if they cleaned up the rubbish and not leave it to rot on the streets and be rummaged through by all the stray dogs and cows. Even better, people should stop dumping their rubbish on the street and dispose of it responsibly. Not too much to ask you’d think – but clearly it is, as that message hasn’t made it into the official advice. #IncredibleIndia 
* data from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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