Ronak Rao, a self-employed civil en gineer, was down with high fever, severe body ache, headache and rashes. A lab test found his platelet count was low, and with a persistent fever, he tested positive for dengue.While his fever subsided in three days and he was discharged from hospital, it took him a couple of weeks to overcome his weakness and get back to work.
Private hospitals say the city is in the grip of a dengue scare. The number of patients -outpatient and inpatient – at Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwantpur, ranges between 80 and 100 a month and this number has been consistent for the past couple of months.
The BBMP, though, doesn’t want to accept this.
At Manipal Group of Hospitals, there have been 340 cases in July, 300 in August and 275 in September. These are, however, cases of suspected dengue. “In 2012, the number of cases shot up to over 400 in these monsoon months, while in 2013, it was in the 250-300 range,” said Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, medical director and chairman, medical advisory board, Manipal Hospitals.
At Victoria Hospital, 75% of the beds are occupied by patients suffering from dengue. “It’s definitely bad this year. Unexpected and incessant rain triggered the problem, with abundant pools of stagnant water turning into breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” said Dr Veeran Gowda, head, department of medicine, Victoria Hospital.
As expected, the BBMP denied this, claiming that only 322 dengue cases were reported in government hospitals in the past 10 months (January to October 15). The figure last year was more than 1,000. “Compared to last year, the cases are fewer this year. The situation is under control,” said Dr M Naveen Kumar, project coordinator, BBMP, National Vector-Borne Disease Control Program.
Medical experts say dengue cases are highly under-reported – for every case reported, 100 go unreported. Private hospitals in the city send their suspected dengue samples to the state government, which in turn gets them tested. And quite possibly , manipulation happens at this level, doctors fear.
Unclean Bangalore is the biggest concern and contributor to the disease. “We need to start a Swachh Bangalore Abhiyan here.The garbage menace is one of the biggest reasons for dengue,” said Dr Swati Rajagopal, consultant, Infectious Diseases, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwantpur.
A big cause for concern is that children and the elderly are vulnerable to dengue, said doctors. “The immune system in children is not fully developed and the elderly are usually caught up with hypertension and diabetes.The chances of their cases getting complicated is more probable,” said Dr Swati.
Mr Commissioner, no point blaming the weather.
Dengue is attacking Bangalore because the city is filthy, and it’s time BBMP acknowledged this. It’s also time you took part of the blame for the spread of this deadly disease. Your inability to resolve the garbage mess has made the citizen vulnerable. And even if you shout from the rooftops that the city is 95% clean, no one’s going to believe you. Because Bangalore stinks. Instead, get a tough waste management policy in place, set up processing plants and ensure segregation at source. If cities across the world can manage their waste, so can we.