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80 Fever-Related Deaths in Kerala as Monsoon Arrives

Neelambaran A |
The number of dengue, H1N1, rat bite and chikungunya cases have spiked since June.

Image Courtesy: PTI

Eighty fever-related deaths were reported in Kerala last month as the monsoon triggered dengue, H1N1, rat bite and chikungunya cases. Public health experts have advised people to seek treatment instead of self-medication.

The number of viral- and bacteria-induced fever cases in the state spike in June, July and August every year due to rains. Dengue outbreaks were reported during the southwest monsoon in 2013 and 2017.

As per the data published by health minister Veena George, 2,863 positive dengue cases and 7,906 probable cases were reported between January 1 and June 20, much higher than the previous two years. A total of 29 deaths were reported during the same period. 

The health department has confirmed the spread of type-2 dengue fever (DENV-2), which is considered more severe than the other three types. The delay in identifying the type has been attributed as the reason for deaths in the state. 

The departments of health and local self-governments (LSGs) have ramped up measures to contain the spread of dengue and other mosquito-borne fevers.

On July 1, 12,728 people sought treatment for fever. As the number of cases is increasing, the health department has identified 138

hotspots of dengue fever based on the number of positive and active cases and mosquito density where health and officials will keep extra vigil in containing the spread and ensure timely identification of the type of fever. 

State Planning Board member and former director of health services PK Jameela told Newsclick that people should seek proper treatment for fever. 

“People decide it is viral fever and resort to self-medication leading to complications. Since several types of fever are common during this season, drawing conclusions is not advisable,” she said. 

Most fever cases have typical symptoms, but timely diagnosis is crucial as delayed hospitalisation led to deaths, she added.  

“We have better investigation facilities at government and private hospitals, which makes diagnosis much shorter and easier. While other fever types could be cured even if hospitalisation is delayed, dengue is an exception which can kill people irrespective of their age without timely treatment,” Jameela said. 

Regarding the increase in the caseload this year compared to the previous years, Jameela said that cases were low since people were extra cautious due to the pandemic. 

“This spike is not a new phenomenon in the state as the breeding climate for mosquitos is favourable. Continuous rains can wash away the larvae whereas breaks with intermittent sunny days can increase breeding,” she said. 

Though water-borne diseases are high during the monsoon, very few cases have been reported. “Water-borne diseases are quite low since most people drink boiled water. Similar preventive measures can also contain mosquito-borne diseases,” Jameela said. 

The department has announced dry days in educational institutions and houses. Mass cleaning exercises have been initiated to prevent mosquito breeding. Jameela appealed to people to follow basic hygiene to prevent the spread of fever, specifically air-borne types. 

“Those with severe diseases like cancer should avoid crowded places and wear masks in public places. Keeping the surroundings clean, as directed correctly by the state government, is also essential,” she added. 

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