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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Schools scurry to thwart Aedes

St Xavier's Collegiate School wore a deserted look on Wednesday, a pre-exam holiday. A solitary circular ' Come Forward to Prevent Dengue, courtesy Government of West Bengal ' was pinned to the notice board, three days after a Class VII student succumbed to the disease.

Also on Wednesday, a Class II student of St James was detected with dengue. In the late afternoon, a Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) smoke machine arrived to fumigate the entire building.

Earlier in the day, the machine had done the rounds of Mahadevi Birla Girls' Higher Secondary School.

With dengue in Calcutta reaching epidemic proportions and other viral fevers peaking, schools are scurrying to provide cover for kids.

Delhi Public School, Ruby Park, has issued a circular to parents requesting them to send boys to school in full-sleeve shirts and trousers and girls in full-sleeve shirts, full-length skirts and stockings or long socks. 'We can't make it mandatory, neither can we insist, but we hope the parents will cooperate,' said principal Indrani Sanyal.

The building in mosquito territory is also fumigated every day, while each classroom has a plug-in repellent and even Odomos for those who want to use it. 'We had one case of reported dengue, but the child is fine. Two others are in hospital, but they've got viral fever,' Sanyal added.

The viral fever sweeping through the city is causing panic among students and parents alike. Monideepa Mondal, of Calcutta International School, is down with fever for a week. Her doctor has advised a dengue test if her condition doesn't improve soon.

Most schools are on their toes, keeping the mosquitoes at bay. 'We are using bleaching powder and anything else we can lay our hands on to regularly clean out the area around our school, from drains to bushes,' said Terence Ireland, principal of St James School.

'One of our students was detected with dengue today. I sent a letter to CMC officials at noon. After 4 pm, they were at our school with a smoke machine,' he added.

For Sumita Mazumdar, whose sons are in St James, the battle is a grim one. She applies Odomos on them everyday before sending them to school, and keeps the windows at her Ballygunge Circular Road home shut from 11 am to 7 pm. 'But my younger son still got bitten yesterday. I'm very worried,' she said.

At Modern High School, principal Devi Kar said she was not aware of any dengue cases in her school, where the classrooms were being sprayed and stagnant water was being cleared to keep the mosquitoes away, 'especially since we have a garden'. For Kar, talking to the students about the disease is a no-no, 'because it scares them'.

But Rashi Narula, principal of Mahadevi Birla, felt discussing the disease was a way of cautioning them.

The weapons may be different, but the enemy is common ' the Aedes mosquito.

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