Maharashtra on Chikungunya alert


Mumbai : The Maharashtra health department has rushed its senior officials to Kolhapur district where 21 people have been admitted to hospitals after symptoms of the deadly Chikungunya disease.

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"Some cases of fever were reported from Kolhapur. We have sent a team of senior health department officials there to assess the situation," state health secretary Chandra Iyenger said Wednesday.

"Blood samples of the patients have been sent for confirmation to the National Institute of Virology at Pune," she said.

The government Tuesday sent state joint health director B. K. Gaikwad to assess the situation in Kolhapur, and its neighbouring Sangli and Solapur districts bordering Andra Pradesh, the official said.

"Though no Chikungunya cases have been detected so far in the state, we have taken a serious note of reported cases in neighbouring states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and also the deaths from the deadly virus in Kerala," Iyenger told IANS.

She said the district medical officers have been instructed to intensify their mosquito-control measures and to keep a close vigil on reports of fever cases in their respective districts.

The health secretary said that as a precautionary measure, the department has deployed 10,000 health officials trained in identifying mosquitoes, checking their density and conducting door-to-door checks to focus on breeding sites.

"The medical teams have fanned into the districts to carry out door-to-door weekly checks to ensure that families empty their water-storing vessels once every week to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

"We have instructed medical officers to ensure that people are encouraged to seek immediate medical help if anyone is found suffering with any kind of high fever or rashes," added Iyenger.

Chikungunya is a viral fever transmitted by the Aedis Aegypti mosquito. This year, the disease has already claimed 54 lives in Kerala.

Maharashtra had witnessed an outbreak of Chikungunya last year, with over 150,000 cases reported from several districts including Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Yavatmal and Beed.