AlREADY challenged by a rising swine-flu threat, the State health department is now having to battle a resurgent dengue menace. Lurking to strike hard is the dengue shock syndrome (DSS), which has claimed one life so far. No less than 24 cases have been reported in just two weeks at a single hospital.
Patients diagnosed with DSS have been admitted to the emergency ward of Manipal Hospital here. Of these, eight have been admitted to the ICU where one dengue-related death has taken place.
For one of the patients, Zakir Ahmed, what seemed like a common flu turned to be a near-fatal experience. The 14-year-old, who developed fever 10 days ago, is now recuperating from brain fever and badly infected liver and kidneys.
Ahmed contracted DSS, which was detected barely three days after he had fever. “The doctor got him admitted to hospital immediately. So we took him to Shifa Hospital,” Zakir’s father Shabbir Ahmed said. However, within two days his condition worsened as he was struck down with brain fever. Zakir’s parents then shifted him to Manipal Hospital.
Dr Meera Ramakrishnan, a paediatrician, said the disease can affect children between 8 months and 16 years of age. The symptoms are quite vague and unspecific. “Cough, fever, and abdominal pain are some of the common symptoms. Usually, a majority of the cases are not severe but if the child’s haemoglobin level is high and the platelet count is low, then the child should immediately be admitted to hospital,” says Dr Ramakrishnan.
The disease is contracted more during monsoon — May to September — with July and August being the period when the virus is most virulent.
Patients who contract a milder version can recover within three to four days of medication. However, it has been observed that patients with a more severe strain of the virus take nearly two weeks of intensive treatment to recover. It is during this time that there is the danger of death. “A boy didn’t survive even though we struggled for 36 hours.”
Another paediatric ICU consultant, Dr Gnanan, says that in the last two to three years dengue has been affecting the liver severely. The nature of DSS is such that it causes haemorrhage. Liver is responsible for blood clotting. If it gets damaged, it will be difficult for blood to clot, resulting in internal bleeding, the doctor explained.
She says that parents need worry only if, after four days of fever, they notice the child showing lethargy, blotches on the hands, intense abdominal pain, higher frequency of thirst, respiratory difficulty, skin turning blue and limbs turning cold. Dr Ramakrishnan stressed that “dengue is caused by aedes mosquito which can bite any time of the day.”
(Published in Deccan Herald on July, 2009; Page 1 anchor)