Kerala records huge spike in infectious diseases; dengue, H1N1 cases rise alarmingly

viral fever
Representational Image | Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is witnessing an alarming rise in the spread of infectious diseases, especially dengue and swine flu cases. While the dengue cases recorded a three-fold rise, the number of H1N1 cases being reported rose by nearly 10 times.
The spike comes at a time when there are complaints that many private hospitals have not been handing over exact details of diseases to the State Health Directorate. If the same is accounted for, then the figures may further go up.

While the state recorded 4,432 cases and 29 fatalities due to dengue fever last year, as many as 12,518 people have been affected and 44 died due to the disease so far this year. Similarly, 90 cases of H1N1 were reported last year while seven persons succumbed to the disease. This time around, a total of 910 swine flu cases and 52 fatalities were reported in the first 10 months of this year.

The cases of chicken pox too are on the rise. Last year, a total of 9,928 cases and 12 fatalities were reported. However, 2,2628 people have contracted the disease so far this year. Four deaths were also reported. 

However, there is a slight decrease in the cases of Scrub typhus. A total of 422 cases and 10 fatalities have been reported so far, as against 725 cases and 20 fatalities last year. With regard to leptospirosis (rat fever), the state recorded 2,429 cases and 93 deaths last year. This year, a total of 1807 people contracted the disease as of yesterday (November 4). 74 fatalities were also reported. As against 201 suspected cases last year, 151 people have been included in the list of suspected cases so far this year.

Similarly, 106 cases of suspected dengue fever deaths have been reported so far this year as against 39 last year. The suspected H1N1 fatalities cases are 20 this year against five cases last time. The authorities are yet to reveal whether the suspected cases have been confirmed later.

Mosquitoes, which spread dengue, breed in stagnant water. Photo: IANS

Lack of sanitation raises concern

As per the primary assessment of the health department, poor sanitation and changing climatic conditions have resulted in a surge in diseases. During a recent high-level meeting of the health department officials, it was pointed out that the local bodies have miserably failed in ensuring proper sanitation, from post-monsoon cleaning to effective garbage collection and disposal.

A majority of those contracting leptospirosis are the daily wage workers registered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme. They are easily prone to diseases due to their work in polluted water bodies with blocked water flow caused by plastic waste.

Doxycycline pills to prevent water-borne diseases

Rat fever
Rat fever cases are also rising in the state. Photo: Canva

Health officials recommended taking Doxycycline pills for those working in water-logged areas and stagnant water bodies. One can ideally take two 100 mg pills (200 milligrams) once in a week. The pills are given free of cost in government health centres. This tablet is particularly effective against Rat fever, a rare bacterial infection contracted from animals. It mainly spreads through the urine of infected animals, especially dogs, rodents, and farm animals.

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