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Sep 03, 2012 at 04:07pm IST

Kolkata faces dengue outbreak, government remains apathetic

Kolkata: Kolkata is reeling under its worst bout of dengue this monsoon season. Two patients have succumbed in the past fortnight and government and private hospitals are flooded with dengue patients. However, despite recurrence of dengue outbreak in the recent past, the state Health Department is ill-equipped to contain the disease.

Twenty-four-year-old Abhay Pratap Yadav, a migrant skilled worker from Uttar Pradesh, was admitted to a nursing home in Kolkata last week with high fever and a splitting head ache. His blood report confirmed dengue.

He says that while his co-workers, who too fell sick, recovered quickly, he did not.

Kolkata is undoubtedly experiencing one of its worst outbreaks of dengue in recent times. People with symptoms are queuing up at pathological clinics by the thousands to get their blood tested. The government, however, says it is doing its best to curb the disease.

Chandrima Bhattacharya, the MoS for Health, says, "We have directed the various medical colleges to have a separate fever clinic which will be dedicated to only dengue-affected people. And we have asked them to have 10 seats... 10 beds dedicated for this disease only."

What sets the dengue carrying mosquito Aedes Aegypti apart is that it breeds in fresh water and bites during the day. That is why experts feel its disease is virtually unpreventable in a city like Kolkata which has a high population density. To make matters worse, there's large scale construction work which requires artificial water reservoirs.

Dr Amitabha Nandy, a consultant physician with Tropical Medicine, says, "There are sporadic cases of dengue in the city throughout the year and sudden outburst of cases in outbreak form during the rainy season because of the massive availability of mosquitoes. And throughout the year, those who were suffering from sporadic cases serve as the reservoir of the infection."

Despite its endemic proportions and its recurrence of outbreak over the past few years, there seems to have been very little organised effort to combat dengue in Kolkata.

While awareness about the disease is the key, the lack of a general government master plan to minimise its effect ahead of the rainy season may just be the price the city isn't ready to pay.