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Bihar: Dengue Menace Back to Haunt Ahead of Festivities

The rapid spread of dengue ahead of Diwali and Chhath is haunting everyone, from parents of school-going children to health staff and business people.


Representational use only.Image Courtesy: Flickr

Patna: Contrary to the state government's repeated claim that a drive to contain dengue is underway, cases are rising in Bihar. The rapid spread of dengue ahead of Diwali and Chhath, the most popular festival of Bihar, is haunting all, including parents of school-going children, policemen, health staff, businessmen, workers and others. 

However, thousands of the poorest of poor living in slums or huts on the roadside are more vulnerable to dengue due to filth, dumping of garbage and water- logging in Patna and other towns. 

The state health department has issued a dengue alert and advisory following the rising numbers of cases. As per official data, the number of cases is more than 5,600 in the state so far. “Cases are likely to go further in the next two to three days. After 2019 when the state reported 6,667 cases, this year the number of cases may cross 6,000 or maybe more,” a health department official told NewsClick.

Officially, four dengue deaths have been reported so far with dozens of patients undergoing treatment at various hospitals. 

Officials said that Patna has emerged as the hot spot of dengue. Most cases have been reported in Patna and Nalanda districts. In Patna, 451 cases were reported on Wednesday. So far, more than 4,368 cases have been reported in Patna and more than 300 cases in Nalanda. Dengue cases have also been reported in Munger, Siwan, Jehanabad, Arwal, Aurangabad, Vaishali, Gaya, East Champaran, Samastipur, and Rohtas districts. 

Meanwhile, school students have startedwearing full-sleeved clothes, the police headquarters have also asked personnel to wear full-sleeved uniforms. Local dailies reported that the demand for mosquito nets and repellents has increased ten-fold. Apart from this, the demand for goat milk and papaya leaves -- which are perceived as useful -- has also increased. 

In Patna, people in residential localities complained of insufficient fumigation despite a surge in cases. “It is more on paper and Patna Municipal Corporation officials are doing their duty half-heartedly. We are disappointed,” Brijmohan Prasad Sinha, a retired college teacher and resident of KadamKuan told NewsClick. 

A similar view was expressed by Satender Kumar Singh, a resident of Kurji and Mahfooz Alam in Phulwarisharif on the outskirts of Patna. “We read a news item a few days ago that health minister Tejashwi Yadav flagged off nearly 100 vehicle-mounted fogging machines and 375 motorcycle-borne teams with larvicides for an intensified drive against dengue. But these are missing in my locality,” he said.

“Fogging and spraying are being done only for namesake despite the rising number of dengue cases. The ground reality is different. We are at high risk of getting dengue,” Mahesh Yadav, a resident of Gosaintola told NewsClick.

Tejashwi Yadav, who is also deputy Chief Minister, announced last Sunday that fogging and anti-larvae drives would be conducted on a war-footing to control the spread of dengue.

With the alarming spread of dengue, a four-member central team is visiting the state to help the state government tackle the situation by taking specific measures. The team on Thursday visited dengue wards of different hospitals in Patna and Nalanda to assess the situation, Dr Ranjeet Kumar, state surveillance officer, told NewsClick.

The department has directed all nine government hospitals, including the Patna Medical College and Hospital, to increase the number of beds for dengue patients and also asked the urban development department to intensify spraying of DDT powder, anti-larvae chemicals and the fogging of malathion mix to control the spread of dengue in Patna and other towns, officials said.

As per official data, 6,667 dengue cases were reported in 2019 and the number decreased to 493 in 2020 and 633 cases in 2021 with the COVID-19 outbreak.

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