With monsoon comes Dengue: As Telangana reports 886 cases, here’s what you can do

In Telangana, the monsoon has been in the state for only the last two weeks, but 886 cases of dengue have been reported as of 22 June, 2024, according to the state health officials.

BySumit Jha

Published Jun 23, 2024 | 7:00 AM Updated Jun 23, 2024 | 7:00 AM

Rise of dengue cases in Karnataka

As the monsoon rejuvenates landscapes and provides much-needed relief from the summer heat, it also brings serious communicable disease including dengue.

In Telangana, the monsoon has been in the state for only the last two weeks, but 886 cases of dengue have been reported as of 22 June, 2024, according to the state health officials.

The cases are being reported from Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Medak, Medchal Malkajgiri, and Kamareddy districts.

“These are sporadic cases, being reported from one or two districts on a daily basis. Compared to the previous year, the trends are not that high, but we are taking precautions as the cases may increase with time and can lead to severe infections,” said the health official to South First.

In 2022, Telangana reported 8,972 dengue cases, which was higher than the 7,894 cases reported in 2023. However, the state did see one dengue-related death in 2023.

Hyderabad, the capital city, has been identified as a hotspot for dengue infections. The city continues to see new dengue cases even during the off-peak season, with doctors reporting 4-5 cases per day.

Also Read: Bengaluru sees sharp rise in dengue cases in 10 days

Dengue cases in Telangana

“Currently, the cases are sporadic, coming on and off, but they are increasing with the onset of the rainy season. In previous years, the number of serious cases was higher, but due to heightened awareness during the Covid-19 pandemic, people have become more vigilant,” said the Superintendent of Fever Hospital in Hyderabad to South First.

“Fevers are decreasing within two to three days, and symptoms are generally less severe. However, with the monsoon just beginning, the number of cases might still rise,” he said.

Experts warn that the risk of severe dengue is high due to the large number of cases reported last year, as repeat infections tend to be more severe. Certain dengue virus strains with deletions in the 3’UTR region have also been associated with causing severe dengue.

The fact that there are four different strains of the dengue virus means that a person can be infected up to four times in their lifetime. Each subsequent infection weakens the immune system and increases the severity of the illness. Experts fear a surge in dengue cases is overdue.

Dengue fever is caused by one of four dengue viruses—DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4.

Each of these viruses has a different serotype, which is a specific strain of the virus. When a person is infected with dengue, their immune system develops antibodies to the specific serotype they were infected with.

However, these antibodies do not provide lifelong immunity to all serotypes of dengue. Instead, immunity to one serotype is usually short-lived, lasting only about 2-3 months.

This means that a person can get infected with dengue multiple times, especially if they are exposed to different serotypes of the virus.

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The breeding season

“The high moisture content in the air allows harmful microorganisms to thrive, leading to the transmission of a range of diseases through different mediums — such as mosquitoes, water, air, and contaminated food,” said Hyderabad-based physician Dr Vamsi Krishna.

Mosquitoes — particularly the Aedes aegypti and Anopheles species — lay their eggs in stagnant water.

The heavy rain during the monsoon season leads to water accumulating in containers, puddles, clogged drains, and other areas, providing perfect breeding sites for these insects.

“High humidity levels extend the lifespan of mosquitoes, allowing them more time to breed and spread diseases. Mosquitoes are more active and feed more frequently in these conditions, increasing the likelihood of disease transmission,” said Dr Krishna.

“During monsoons, people often spend more time indoors thinking that mosquitoes can bite them outside, but mosquitoes can breed unnoticed in domestic containers, increasing the likelihood of bites,” he further said.

“Also, Rain can disrupt proper waste management, leading to more containers and debris that can collect water and become breeding sites,” said Dr Krishna.

He added that heavy rains can overwhelm sewage systems, leading to the contamination of water supplies with faecal matter.

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Dengue prevention and management

The most important prevention measure is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and ensure your living and sleeping areas are free of mosquitoes.

Reduce mosquito breeding grounds by getting rid of standing water in containers like flower pots, old tires, and bird baths around your home and community.

The absence of a vaccine and specific antiviral treatment for dengue fever makes the disease particularly challenging and potentially fatal.

“This lack of targeted medical intervention means that healthcare providers must rely on symptomatic treatment and vigilant management of cases to mitigate the impact of the virus,” said Dr Krishna.

“Symptomatic treatment typically involves maintaining adequate hydration, managing pain and fever with medications, and monitoring for signs of severe dengue, such as bleeding, severe abdominal pain, and rapid decline in platelet counts,” he said.

Early detection and appropriate clinical management are crucial in preventing complications and reducing mortality rates.

Additionally, public health measures to control mosquito populations and prevent mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent, installing screens, and eliminating standing water, are essential in reducing the incidence of dengue.

“Once the spread of dengue starts, it is very difficult to control and can quickly assume epidemic proportions,” said Hyderabad-based paediatrician Dr M karuna.

She said that in Mumbai, insecticide spray officers send staff door-to-door to remove breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, particularly in slums.

City health officers also go door-to-door to explain the symptoms of dengue and malaria. Early diagnosis and timely referral of complicated cases can decrease mortality.

Eco Biotrap, an eco-friendly dengue mosquito trap, is being used in Dharavi, and the municipal corporation is employing drones to spray insecticides.

“These sporadic cases are now increasing to epidemic proportions. The government should kindly start a website to report cases, provide alerts, and facilitate entomological interventions,” said Dr. M. Karuna.

“Public education and participation are crucial. Additionally, medical education on protocol-based management, early recognition of deterioration, and timely referral is needed to decrease hospital stay durations and mortality,” she said.

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The health department guidelines

Battling the Mosquito menace to fight Malaria, Dengue and Chikungunya, health department has put forth a guideline for the public.

➢ Doors and windows are to be secured with mosquito nets / screens, and any holes in the net should be promptly closed. Keep windows and doors shut during the breeding time of the mosquitoes (early morning and evening).

➢ Beds and cribs are to be covered with mosquito nets, preferably insecticide-treated. The net should have 156 holes in a square inch and should be tucked around the bed.

➢ Children should wear light-colored clothes which will cover their arms as well as legs.

➢ Mosquito repellent like creams / lotions / Roll-on sticks / body sprays applied before going outdoor and during dawn and dusk will help immensely. But make sure not to apply repellent on hands, mouth, eyes and on any cuts / bruises and refrain to use if you are allergic.

➢ Use chemical mosquito repellents like liquid vaporizers, mats, coils, pest control fumes and sprays etc. with caution as they may have adverse effects on health Also keep them away from children’s reach.

➢ Maintain drains to prevent water stagnation.

➢ Septic tanks are best covered with a mesh to prevent mosquito breeding.

➢ Observance of Friday dry day in every week to get rid of stagnant water around your house, in discarded flower pots, cans, tyres, buckets, coolers, ditches and drains. Trim lawns as short as possible.

“As a part of precautionary measures, the government has made elaborate arrangements by providing special beds, I.V fluids, and essential medicines at all the public health facilities and ORS sachets are made available with ANMs / ASHAs / Anganwadi workers to meet any exigencies,” said the Director of Public Health in the guidelines.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)

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