The dengue danger

Dengue is spreading fast in West Bengal. The number of dengue patients has already exceeded 20,000 with the number steadily rising. Thirty-nine deaths have so far been reported. Unfortunately, a controversy has started between the West Bengal Government and its critics. The latter claim that the TMC Government is suppressing the actual number of dengue patients because it is unable to cope with the situation. Neither the Health Department of the Government nor the civic bodies are equipped to deal with the situation. Even the doctors are divided whether or not facts are indeed being suppressed. Some government doctors have alleged that they have been asked not to mention dengue as the cause of death in the death certificates. The Centre is sending a fact-finding team to assess the situation and find possible lapses on the part of the State Government.
Complaints of inadequate infrastructural facilities to deal with the dengue problem have been made on different grounds. Aedis egyptii, the mosquito that acts as vector in spreading the dengue virus, breeds in stagnant water pools. Photographs have appeared of such pools existing right in the premises of government hospitals and health centres. Another charge is that not all hospitals are equipped to examine the blood of suspected dengue patients. There are differences among the doctors also about the course of treatment like the number of platelets in the patient’s blood that should cause concern. There are obvious differences between doctors on political lines as well. All these have helped to create panic among the people about dengue.
A long-term planning is necessary to prevent the outbreak of dengue every year.  A proper infrastructure should be created right down to the thana level so that anyone running fever for some days and showing symptoms of dengue can have his or her blood examined without delay and if found positive is taken to a hospital. This will go a long way in preventing the spread of the disease. Early detection will also significantly increase chances of recovery and reduce the number of deaths. Hospitals have to ensure that they themselves do not become the breeding ground of dengue mosquitoes.
There is another danger. Most pathogens become resistant to drugs after some time. Extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis is already causing serious concern to health authorities including the World Health Organization. There are other diseases also which are getting drug-resistant. Sometimes the patients themselves are responsible for making pathogens drug-resistant by not completing the course of the treatment but stopping it halfway as soon as symptoms disappear. People have to be made aware of the danger to which they expose themselves by stopping treatment before they are fully cured.

Sunday, 29 October, 2017