Bihar floods: Fear of dengue outbreak looms over Patna; health dept denies waterlogging to blame for spike

  • After incessant rain and intense waterlogging in Bihar, the state capital Patna is under threat of outbreak.

  • On Saturday, 85 patients — all hailing from Patna city or the district — tested positive for the dreaded disease

  • Health department principal secretary Sanjay Kumar blamed the recent upsurge of cases on a seasonal occurrence

After incessant rain and intense waterlogging in Bihar, the state capital Patna is under threat of dengue outbreak. With several low-lying areas such as Kankarbagh, Rajendra Nagar, Kadamkuan waterlogged, residents are facing the nightmare of dengue and chikungunya. Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) and Nalanda Medical College Hospital (NMCH), both government hospitals, have seen a constant influx of patients suffering from dengue.

On Saturday, 85 patients — all hailing from Patna city or the district — tested positive for the dreaded disease. As per the report of the PMCH Virology Department, Saturday marked the highest number of patients testing positive in one day. The previous day, 67 cases of dengue were detected. On Saturday, the NMCH microbiology department saw 18 patients tested for dengue, of which four tested positive.

Dr Ragini Mishra, epidemiologist at the State Health Society, said, "Till Wednesday, 1,277 people tested positive for dengue, of which 1,236 were identified by MAC-ELISA tests. The health department counts as dengue cases only those cases confirmed through the ELISA test. Patients who test positive through rapid diagnostic tests are not counted, as many times these throw up false results. There are 9 sentinel sites in medical college and hospitals being used for confirmation of dengue cases."

 Bihar floods: Fear of dengue outbreak looms over Patna; health dept denies waterlogging to blame for spike

A dengue ward at the Patna Medical College and Hospital. Image courtesy: Saurav Kumar

At indoor spots, where water has accumulated for a long time, indoor-residual spray (IRS) will be done by 10 teams from Thursday, Dr Mishra further added.

Private hospitals, which have been treating many cases identified by the rapid diagnostic test as dengue, have been directed to inform the civil surgeon’s office so that the latter conducts the ELISA tests, which as per the health department, is necessary to confirm a case of dengue. "Right now, ELISA tests are being done for free only at PMCH,” said a health department official.

Witnessing the deluge, the Bihar state health society roped in 24 anti-larvae control vehicles to inform the public about dengue and water borne-diseases. PMCH administration has created three dengue wards with capacity of 35 beds and also increased 10 beds each in ICU and emergency wards.

Till 6 October, 1,180 cases of dengue were reported across Bihar. A senior health department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said 823 cases have been confirmed in Patna alone and 90 cases of chikungunya have also been confirmed. In Patna, Rajiv Nagar, Jakkanpur, Digha, Kankarbagh, Rajendra Nagar and Gardanibagh had the highest number of infected. Intra-state incidences from different districts are as follows: 95 from Bhagalpur, 25 in Nalanda, 13 from Muzaffarpur, 13 in Purnia, 13 from Aurangabad, 11 in Nawada, eight from Jamui, seven from Begusarai, seven from East Champaran, and six in Gopalganj. Statistics indicate a rise in number of dengue cases in the past few, but thankfully no deaths have been reported. The PMCH was treating three chikungunya patients.

The health department, acknowledging the spread of disease, issued an alert. Arrangements have been made at 22 Primary Health Centres in Patna district to counter dengue and other water-borne diseases. From 10 to 12 October, PMCH and NMCH will be free health checkup camps.

Dr Sachidanand, in-charge Virology lab PMCH, said his facility is getting patients with dengue and suspected cases of dengue from across the state. Most patients hailing from the districts of Sasaram, Nalanda, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali and Madhepura are coming to PMCH. PMCH superintendent Dr Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said that as per Wednesday, 77 cases of dengue have been identified and the patients are being treated for free. We have added 20 more beds in emergency ward of the hospital, Sachidanand stated.

Dr RK Choudhary, district civil surgeon, said all Primary Health Centres (PHC) are equipped with facilities to treat dengue. The civil surgeon's office has also issued a directive to the municipal corporation officials to conduct fogging using larvicide treatment using Temephos.

On Wednesday, residents of Agamkuan blocked the Zero Mile Road, demanding that the government act. Image courtesy: Saurav Kumar

On Wednesday, residents of Agamkuan blocked the Zero Mile Road, demanding that the government act. Image courtesy: Saurav Kumar

An official looking after the dengue control programme in the district civil surgeon's office informed that auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers have been told to report to the officials concerned if they see symptoms of dengue in patients during field visits. According to Patna DM Kumar Ravi, 2.20 lakh people were affected by the waterlogging.

The state health department seemed to contradict itself. While the department denied any spike in dengue cases, health department principal secretary Sanjay Kumar said the number of patients testing positive for dengue was actually falling until the recent upsurge, which he blamed on a "seasonal occurrence" and not waterlogging.

 Union minister of state for health and family welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey assured all possible help to overcome the crisis. Patna Sahib MP and Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also visited the affected at PMCH. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sent strict directives to the health department to keep a check and initiate all measures to combat disease outbreak.

On Wednesday, Patna residents took to the streets to protest. Residents of Agamkuan blocked the Zero Mile Road (the junction that connects north Bihar region and Patna through Gandhi setu) for six hours. Using bamboos barriers, they demanded immediate relief from stagnant water in their locality as the dewatering already occurred in low-lying areas of Rajendra Nagar, Kankarbagh.

This led to long queues on Gandhi setu and both sides of NH30 for hours, crippling roadway connectivity with the north Bihar region. Sanjeet Kumar, Agamkuan resident, said: “There is waterlogging and ditches in our area. As the PMC does nothing, we are forced to sprinkle bleaching powder around the campus. We are really worried about falling ill. Stagnant water appears to be brownish-black with a pungent odour. We demand immediate action.” A similar protest was witnessed at the Dinkar Chowk, which falls under Kadamkuan Police Station.

The Great Diwali Discount!
Unlock 75% more savings this festive season. Get Moneycontrol Pro for a year for Rs 289 only.
Coupon code: DIWALI. Offer valid till 10th November, 2019 .

Updated Date: Oct 11, 2019 07:21:48 IST