Punjab: In 9 days, near 90% jump in dengue cases

Though the state has not reported any confirmed death due to dengue, the number of suspected deaths have shot from one on October 12 to 22 on October 21.

Yet to recover from its long fight against Covid-19, Punjab is now battling a major outbreak of dengue with the number of patients confirmed to have been infected with the vector-borne disease near doubling in just about nine days.

From 5,889 patients on October 12 to 11,129 on October 21, Punjab has recorded a jump of 88.9 per cent in confirmed dengue cases. Five districts – Mohali, Bathinda, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Pathankot, account for 6,970, or nearly 63 per cent, of the cases. The overall figures are highest in the last three years. The state had reported 8,435 cases in 2020 and 10,170 in 2019.

Though the state has not reported any confirmed death due to dengue, the number of suspected deaths have shot from one on October 12 to 22 on October 21. Of these, nine suspected deaths have been reported from Mansa and three from Ludhiana.

Health department claims that it has been making house visits, spreading awareness and conducting fogging exercise to kill the mosquito larvae. However not every dengue patient is tested for Covid, said Dr SP Singh, civil surgeon, Ludhiana.

“We test the patients based on their dengue symptoms such as rashes, extreme body ache, high-grade fever, fall in platelets. We test them for Covid if they have symptoms such as fall in blood oxygen level and pulse, and breathlessness,” he said.

Mohali has maximum 1835 dengue patients as on October 21, up from 717 on October 12. Bathinda is a close second with 1,570 cases followed by Amritsar (1242), Hoshiarpur (1,204) and Pathankot (1,120). Muktsar Sahib had a total 967 dengue cases till Thursday compared to 567 on October 12.

Though Barnala’s total count was 58, it is a major jump from nine cases on October 12. Same is with Patiala, where cases increased from 94 to 255 in nine days.

Dr Vitull K Gupta, chairperson, Malwa Physicians Association, said, “Confirmed cases are just the tip of the iceberg. Many patients are not getting ELISA test done while others are getting themselves treated through RMPs. Hence, suspected patients must be 4-5 times more than the reported figures”.

Meanwhile as per Punjab government’s record, a total of 29,307 suspected cases had been reported out of which 11,129 were confirmed.

On being asked if there was a connection between Covid and rising dengue cases, Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, nodal officer for Covid in Punjab, said, “There is no connection as mode of infection is different to two diseases”.

Deputy chief minister OP Soni, who also holds health portfolio, however said, “We are concerned about the rising dengue cases. Teams in every district are working to contain the disease. However, people should also take due precautions”.

Dr Gupta said that there was an urgent need to make doctors aware of the centre for disease control and prevention (CDC) guidelines which suggest platelet transfusion is only indicated for a dengue patient if count is less than 100,00 and with presence of bleeding tendencies. “Otherwise platelet transfusion can have adverse effects,” he said.

He said dengue shock syndrome and haemorrhagic fever are dangerous to life and need to be carefully diagnosed and treated. The two are not at all related to platelet count and can occur in patients with normal platelet count too.

“Simple tourniquet test can be very useful in risk stratification of dengue fever,” he added.

Dr Gagandeep Singh Grover, nodal officer, vector borne diseases, Punjab, while talking about steps being taken to contain the spread said, “More breeding checkers have been hired. More teams for checking and spraying insecticides and larvicides have been procured. State level meeting is being held under chairpersonship of health minister for involvement of other departments. Health minister has reviewed preparedness of districts, and availability of dengue beds with nets at hospitals”.

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