Despite claims by the state government, dengue has returned to Bihar this year in epidemic proportions and the state’s health department seems ill-prepared to contain it, especially in rural areas.

According to State Health Society, which functions under the health department, of the 1,346 cases of dengue reported from across the state so far, 1,229 cases have been confirmed, as on November 5.

Patna leads the pack with 970 reported cases, followed by Siwan (68), Nalanda (55), Muzaffarpur (26), Vaishali (25), Saran (17), Bhagalpur (15), Gaya (13) and Aurangabad (10).

Reports from other districts are only slightly better.

However, Dr Ragni Mishra, epidemiologist, state health society, claimed the overall picture this year was better. “Last year, the figure had crossed 1,000 in October itself. Compared to last year, there has been a sharp decline of 20 to 30% in the number of dengue cases if the present trend is any indication,” she said.

The State Health Society has asked government and private hospitals and medical practitioners to report suspected dengue cases to the health department. “We are constantly monitoring areas where dengue cases are reported from and facilities required there to save a patient’s life,” Mishra said.

At the ground level, however, government hospitals and health centres appear to be ill-equipped to fight the disease.

For example, district hospitals at Bhabua and Sasaram have only five beds each in their isolation wards. Both districts have huge forest areas with human population and deaths of infants or elderly people due to mosquito-borne disease like malaria, meningitis and others is routine.

In each of the two district hospitals, there is just one N1S1 kit, which cannot conclusively confirm dengue. Once a patient tests positive on N1S1 kit, he or she is referred to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) for Elisa test, which can finally confirm dengue, said Kaimur civil surgeon Dr Mithilesh Jha.

None of the two hospitals have facilities to determine CBC (complete blood count), which is necessary to diagnose dengue and decide the line of treatment.

Purnia is no different. “There is no facility for a dengue test. After taking a platelet count, we send the patient to Bhagalpur for further tests,” Purnia civil surgeon Ram Krishna Purve said.

In East Champaran, residents of village Mamarkha Malahi in Areraj sub-division are living in fear after the recent outbreak of dengue in a village. “In the past few weeks, 12 cases of dengue have been reported from our village alone. Not to take a chance, villager prefer going to private hospitals in Motihari, Patna and Gorakhpur. Our government hospitals are ill-equipped to handle a deadly disease like this,” says Chandreshwar Prasad, who, along with four other family members, had contracted dengue in the past.

No fogging has been done in the village despite requests, residents said.

Dengue is caused by aedes mosquitos, which breed in stagnant water. Experts attribute the rise in dengue cases to change in weather, rainfall and water-logging.

As a precautionary measure, doctors advise people to wear full-sleeves clothes to cover most part of the body and use mosquito repellents. The common symptoms of the disease are red mosquito bite marks on the body, high fever, severe abdominal pain, fatigue and blood from gums or during vomiting in severe cases.

(Inputs from Aditya Nath Jha in Purnia, Prasun K Mishra in Bhabua and Rajesh Kumar Thakur in Hajipur)

First Published: Nov 09, 2018 15:48 IST

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