Hyderabadis have once more confronted with fatal diseases like dengue, malaria and more recently scrub fever. Hospitals have witnessed rapid rise in such cases. Added to this all, is cases where there is a couple of two diseases, say malaria and dengue affecting a single patient.
Increased urbanization, clearing of forests, encroachment of prime water bodies in the city has resulted in easy spreading of such diseases as dengue, shrub fever and so on.
Dengue has broken out in several parts of old Hyderabad causing fear among people. GHMC authorities took steps including cleaning and fogging in the affected areas. Treatment for the disease is said to be free.
The government has appealed to people to take preventive measures. These include maintaining adequate sanitation at home. This is to prevent the mosquitoes.
The aedese aegypti mosquito is responsible for causing dengue. It thrives in fresh stagnant water, and therefore removing any stagnant water around is helpful. The mosquito bites people during day time. It multiplies rapidly even in fresh water-filled pots, plastic containers, bags, abandoned tires, and so on.
While the symptoms are similar to those of chikungunya, it is more fatal. Chikungunya can be cured within a period of time, dengue is not so and the patient has to be hospitalised. The symptoms manifest after five to eight days. It may take as long as 15 days, in some cases. The common symptoms are chills, headache, back pain and pain in joints, and in some cases, there is quick rise in temperature, heart rate and blood pressure declines. Patients should see physician immediately.
Dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a fatal form and commonly occurs in children. It can prove fatal on pregnant women. It starts suddenly and within two days the child goes to shock. Blood in stools, blood spots on skin, bleeding gums, bleeding nose occur. The virus affects the platelet population in blood. Normal number platelets are 1.5 lakh to 4 lakh. When the number goes below 1 lakh, the patient needs blood transfusion. Further, intravenous fluid transfusion is also necessary to prevent dehydration.
The WHO prescribes that IGM ELISA test that is to be conducted to confirm the infection. This test is, however, available only at Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM) and Veterinary Biological Research Institute (VBRI). The test costs Rs2,000 to Rs4,000.
Another fever that has shocked people of Hyderabad is mysterious scrub fever, with symptoms a bit similar to those of malaria or dengue. It is, however, more dangerous than both.
Puzzled in the beginning, physicians gradually came to conclusion that the fever is caused by bite by a mite commonly found in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and parts of Maharashtra. The fever appeared in Andhra Pradesh never before and doctors say deforestation has led to the fever.
The bacteria-carrying mite bites people and leaves the bacteria in them. The bacteria are found in rodents and form eschar (a black wound) on the body. When people go to mite infested places, known as mite islands, they get the bite and are infected with the causative bacteria. When a primary forest is cleared, there is secondary scrub growth, where mites thrive.
The symptoms are fever, headache, weakness and body pain- similar to dengue, these patients can also develop jaundice. Delay in treatment may cause kidney failure and seizure, and in some cases death.
Cases with fever, confusion, cough, hepatitis and eschar have come to NIMS, Hyderabad. The eschar resembles a scab on the patient’s body.
Significantly, NIMS is the only hospital in the state that currently administers the ‘Weil Felix and ‘immunochromatography’ tests. These confirm scrub typhus fever.
Outbreak of the confusing scrub typhus fever on such a large scale (as many 100 reported) is an indicator that things have worsened as far as ecology is concerned. Increased clearance of primary forest for diverse objects, without adequate replenishment, has led to current predicament, according to experts.