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Demand dip for dengue kit

Disease spreads but battle against outbreak lacks bite

Calcutta: The demand for dengue test kits from government hospitals and the city civic body has gone down in contrast to the spread of the mosquito-borne disease, agencies supplying the kits said.

One of the agencies supplying the ELISA kits for dengue said the demand was almost 40 per cent lower than last year's.

According to another agency, state-run medical colleges and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation feel the extent of the outbreak does not warrant bulk procurement of kits.

Each ELISA kit can be used to test around 90 blood samples.

"Government hospitals and civic health officials are telling us that there are not many dengue cases this year, so there is no need to place bulk order for the kits. Private hospitals, however, are buying as many kits as they did last year," an official of an agency said on the condition of anonymity.

Health department officials said 718 dengue cases were detected across the state on Sunday. The number of people affected by the virus in the state this year has gone up to 17, 537.

As many as 34 lives have been claimed by the disease in Bengal this year. "The actual death toll could be much more because many dengue cases went unreported in the absence of tests," a public health expert said.

Contrary to what the government hospitals have been telling the agencies, state health services director Biswa Ranjan Satpathi expressed the apprehension that there could be a shortage of the test kits.

"There might be a shortage. There is a problem if the order is not placed well in advance," Satpathi said.

The civic authorities, however, denied that they had cut down the procurement of the dengue test kits.

"We are buying kits according to the requirement," an official said.

"This year till date we have conducted 10,000 NS1 antigen tests. Last year, we had conducted 14,000 NS1 and IgM tests," said Atin Ghosh, the mayoral council member in charge of health.

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