Study shows 70% of children in the slums of India’s metros have suffered ‘silent dengue’
Mumbai, May 14: A community-based study conducted on more than 2,000 children by Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) found that almost 70 per cent of those between the ages of 5-10 years already had dengue anti-bodies.
This means that the children had been exposed to dengue – but most of them were not aware of having suffered from the disease.
Lack of awareness among parents and the children is one of the major causes of the mosquito-borne condition.
As many as 2,591 children were randomly picked from eight sites in Delhi, Kolkata, Maharashtra, Hyderabad, and Wanda between 2012-2015.
Of these, 1,525 children had already been exposed to the disease.
“Almost 70 per cent of the children had dengue-anti-bodies – i.e, they had been exposed to dengue. We got the results from the blood samples collected from the children,” said Dr Suneela Garg, HOD, Community Medicine, MAMC.
If a person has ever suffered from any kind of fever, the body produces anti-bodies which fight the particular disease.
It also exposes the human body to become vulnerable to other types of fever.
“It [the presence of dengue anti-bodies] is not only because of the lack of awareness, but also because some infections were ignored as mild infections that led to the production of anti-bodies,” added Dr Garg.
In Delhi, the samples were collected from two places – Delhi Gate and Balmiki Basti.
Children residing in these areas were exposed to open drains and were living in unhygienic conditions.
“There is hardly any fogging done in our area. A pipeline is being laid in this area due to which the entire road has been dug up. The garbage and debris collected here has become the breeding ground for mosquitoes in our locality,” said Asha Rani, a Balmiki Basti resident.
Dengue occurs in two forms: Dengue Fever and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF).
While dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness, DHF is a more severe form, which may cause death.
Any person suspected of having dengue fever or DHF must see a doctor at once and take the necessary medicines as directed by the physician, after a thorough blood test.
“The study also highlighted that exposure to dengue starts early and keeps on increasing with the age. The DHF was found to be affecting the children of less than of 15 years of age,” said Dr Garg.
Doctors say treatment is symptomatic with no specific cure.
“It is important that people should not ignore mild fever and must visit a doctor. Proper anti-larval measures should be taken,” said Dr SP Byotra, senior consultant, Department of Internal Medicines, Sir Ganga Ram hospital.