The state government is now collaborating with National Institute of Virology to identify the type of dengue virus present in Kolkata and its suburbs. Experts are of the opinion that this time a different strain of dengue virus is affecting the people.
Earlier, Type-3 virus was more prevalent in the city. This year, those down with dengue-like symptoms have external symptoms like stomach pain or pneumonia, which were not found earlier. They feel that external symptoms related with pneumonia are confusing the doctors in the diagnosis of the disease. Amitva Nandi, a doctor in medicine and associated with School of Tropical Medicine, said the dengue virus appears to be reducing immunity of the affected persons to such an extent that cross infection appears to be leading to gastro-intestinal infection or respiratory infection.
Meanwhile, officials from National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) said they are yet to receive any samples for identification of the sub-type of the dengue virus in circulation this year.
Kolkata is reeling under an outbreak of dengue, two people have died and many are flooding hospitals and clinics for treatment. While doctors work round the clock, the government seems to be doing little to contain the disease.
24 year old Abhay Pratap Yadav, a migrant skilled worker from Uttar Pradesh, was admitted to a nursing home in Kolkata last week with high fever and a splitting head ache. His blood report confirmed that he was suffering from dengue.
Yadav said, “The other workers in my group also fell sick. But while they recovered quickly, I didn’t.”
Kolkata is experiencing one of its worst outbreaks of dengue in recent times. Government and private hospitals alike are flooded with patients.
People with dengue symptoms are queuing up at pathological clinics by the thousands to get their blood tested. Unofficially, at least two patients have died in the city in the past fortnight although the government denies it.
MoS Health Chandrima Bhattacharya said, “We have directed the various medical colleges to have a separate fever clinic which will be dedicated to only dengue affected people. And we have asked them to have 10 seats… Ten beds dedicated for this disease only.”
What sets the the dengue carrying mosquito Aedes Aegypti apart is that it breeds in fresh water and bites during the day. That’s why experts feel its disease is virtually unpreventable in a city like Kolkata which has a high population density. To make matters worse, there’s large scale construction work which requires artificial water reservoirs.
Physician Dr Amitabha Nandy said, “There are sporadic cases of dengue in the city throughout the year and sudden outburst of cases in outbreak form during the rainy season because of the massive availability of mosquitoes. And throughout the year those who were suffering from sporadic cases serve as the reservoir of the infection.”
Despite its endemic proportions and its recurrence of outbreak over the past few years, there seems to have been very little organised effort to combat dengue in Kolkata. While awareness about the disease is the key, the lack of a general government master plan to minimise its effect ahead of the rainy season may just be the price the city isn’t ready to pay.