Fear of virus over festivity

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is bracing for a spurt in dengue during the festive season, when hordes of people are likely to descend on the city from nearby places where there has been an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease.

By Subhajoy Roy
  • Published 18.09.17
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Sept. 17: The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is bracing for a spurt in dengue during the festive season, when hordes of people are likely to descend on the city from nearby places where there has been an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease.

The civic body has decided to cancel leave for all its health workers and doctors during the festive season in preparation for this possibility.

"Visitors to the city can be carriers of the dengue virus," said a vector control officer. "If a person who has dengue visits Calcutta and an Aedes aegypti mosquito bites the infected person, the vector will pick up the dengue virus. When this mosquito bites another person, it can transmit the virus."

Since the Anopheles mosquito that transmits the malaria parasite bites at night, a possibly huge "host population" from the outskirts going pandal-hopping in the city is seen as adding to the risk factor.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads dengue bites during daytime.

Public health experts said the municipal authorities should concentrate on controlling the vector population in the city rather than worry about viruses travelling from the districts.

"Why do so many people in Calcutta have dengue? When two or three persons in a family get infected within a gap of a few days, it means there is a sizeable mosquito population transmitting the virus," said Amitabha Nandy, a tropical disease specialist and director of the Centre for Studies on Infection and Immunity.

Nandy said the civic body should strictly implement vector-control protocols to control the spread of viruses, especially dengue.

Municipal doctors said the disease was under control. Data provided by the CMC shows about 300 dengue cases in Calcutta since January. But the outbreak is worse in places like Dum Dum in the north and Sonarpur-Rajpur in the south, officials admitted.

Several doctors not associated with the CMC disputed the data put out by the civic body. "I alone have about 40 dengue patients under my care," Nandy said.

Four people have died from dengue in the CMC area. A 60-year-old man from Jadavpur who had tested positive for dengue died at Desun Hospital on September 14. A six-month-old boy from Beckbagan Row died of the disease and other complications at the Institute of Child Health on September 12. On September 7, dengue had claimed a father and son duo from Kasba.