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A man at the Yamuna River, an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Filthy standing water abounds in New Delhi.

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Re: As Dengue Fever Sweeps India, a Slow Response Stirs Experts’ Fears
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2012, 07:45:03 AM »
By GARDINER HARRIS
Published: November 6, 2012


NEW DELHI — An epidemic of dengue fever in India is fostering a growing sense of alarm even as government officials here have publicly refused to acknowledge the scope of a problem that experts say is threatening hundreds of millions of people, not just in India but around the world.

 India has become the focal point for a mosquito-borne plague that is sweeping the globe. Reported in just a handful of countries in the 1950s, dengue (pronounced DEN-gay) is now endemic in half the world’s nations.

“The global dengue problem is far worse than most people know, and it keeps getting worse,” said Dr. Raman Velayudhan, the World Health Organization’s lead dengue coordinator.

The tropical disease, though life-threatening for a tiny fraction of those infected, can be extremely painful. Growing numbers of Western tourists are returning from warm-weather vacations with the disease, which has reached the shores of the United States and Europe. Last month, health officials in Miami announced a case of locally acquired dengue infection.


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Re: As Dengue Fever Sweeps India, a Slow Response Stirs Experts’ Fears
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2012, 07:45:43 AM »
 Here in India’s capital, where areas of standing water contribute to the epidemic’s growth, hospitals are overrun and feverish patients are sharing beds and languishing in hallways. At Kalawati Saran Hospital, a pediatric facility, a large crowd of relatives lay on mats and blankets under the shade of a huge banyan tree outside the hospital entrance recently.

Among them was Neelam, who said her two grandchildren were deathly ill inside. Eight-year-old Sneha got the disease first, followed by Tanya, 7, she said. The girls’ parents treated them at home but then Sneha’s temperature rose to 104 degrees, a rash spread across her legs and shoulders, and her pain grew unbearable.

“Sneha has been given five liters of blood,” said Neelam, who has one name. “It is terrible.”

Officials say that 30,002 people in India had been sickened with dengue fever through October, a 59 percent jump from the 18,860 recorded for all of 2011. But the real number of Indians who get dengue fever annually is in the millions, several experts said.

“I’d conservatively estimate that there are 37 million dengue infections occurring every year in India, and maybe 227,500 hospitalizations,” said Dr. Scott Halstead, a tropical disease expert focused on dengue research.

A senior Indian government health official, who agreed to speak about the matter only on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that official figures represent a mere sliver of dengue’s actual toll. The government only counts cases of dengue that come from public hospitals and that have been confirmed by laboratories, the official said. Such a census, “which was deliberated at the highest levels,” is a small subset that is nonetheless informative and comparable from one year to the next, he said.

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Re: As Dengue Fever Sweeps India, a Slow Response Stirs Experts’ Fears
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2012, 07:46:36 AM »
 â€œThere is no denying that the actual number of cases would be much, much higher,” the official said. “Our interest has not been to arrive at an exact figure.”

The problem with that policy, said Dr. Manish Kakkar, a specialist at the Public Health Foundation of India, is that India’s “massive underreporting of cases” has contributed to the disease’s spread. Experts from around the world said that India’s failure to construct an adequate dengue surveillance system has impeded awareness of the illness’s vast reach, discouraged efforts to clean up the sources of the disease and slowed the search for a vaccine.

“When you look at the number of reported cases India has, it’s a joke,” said Dr. Harold S. Margolis, chief of the dengue branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Neighboring Sri Lanka, for instance, reported nearly three times as many dengue cases as India through August, according to the World Health Organization, even though India’s population is 60 times larger.


More at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/07/world/asia/alarm-over-indias-dengue-fever-epidemic.html?_r=0




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