UP’s Firozabad grapples with dengue outbreak, dozens die

Firozabad district in Uttar Pradesh continues to grapple with a severe dengue outbreak and is one of the worst-affected districts in the region where more than 500 cases reported in the past one month, two-third of them are children. Health department officials suggest the outbreak of the DENV-2 serotype.

Chief medical officer in Firozabad Dinesh Kumar Premi told Reuters news agency that 58 people, most of them children, had died in his district alone, raising fears that Uttar Pradesh is in the mid of its worst mosquito-borne outbreak in years.

Premi said, “We are taking preventive measures and 95 health camps across the district have been operating in order to contain the spread of this fever.”

Blaming the lack of sanitation and hygiene for its spread, health officials said, among children, dengue hemorrhagic fever is the major cause of fatality. People going to quacks in the initial stage of illness also proved to be fatal for many. Unqualified doctors are administering steroids to patients resulting in high fever, senior health officials said. The UP government has now ordered strict action against such quacks.

To contain the outbreak, the Firozabad district administration has released about 25,000 mosquitofish Gambusia, that eat larvae of dengue-breeding mosquitoes in ponds in urban as well as rural areas of the district.

The major reason for the sudden increase in the number of cases was initial treatment by quacks in slum and rural areas. “Patients suffering from fever were administered steroids. This provided short-term relief but multiplied the rate of falling platelets. Vomiting blood was common in such cases.” Singh added, “The health department has also launched a campaign to take action against the quacks. Private hospitals have also been directed to provide details of patients under treatment.”

District magistrate Chandra Vijay Singh had meanwhile directed the health and municipal corporation officials to carry out a door-to-door survey to drain out stagnant water from coolers, pots, and other utensils.

Moreover, lack of beds in government hospitals made matters worse for many. Currently, there are 64 active camps in Firozabad and nearly 4,800 people, including those with fever, are undergoing treatment.

While the district, has been battling the outbreak of dengue for the last three weeks now, with most of the victims being children, it has been confirmed as the cause of death in only three cases.

However, an audit is underway to determine if it is to blame for more, said UP’s top public health officer Ved Vrat Singh.

In a letter to UP chief secretary, RK Tiwari, Bhushan said, “The central team has observed that the majority of cases are due to dengue, while a few because of scrub typhus and leptospirosis. Vector indices were also found to be high with house index and container index, both, above 50% in Firozabad district; and accordingly, the vector surveillance and control measures have been instituted.”

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection, whereas scrub typhus is caused by bacteria spread by mites. Leptospirosis is spread through water or soil contaminated by the urine of bacteria-infected animals such as pigs, dogs, rodents, etc.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said it has found the D2 strain of dengue in the specimens from Uttar Pradesh, which is deadlier, often causes hemorrhage, and also impacts the platelet count.

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