New diseases emerge in Kozhikode

The reported decline in the incidence of communicable diseases during the monsoon season this year in the district may not indicate an effective management of public health as more diseases, unheard of in the past or rarely reported earlier, are being reported now.

Seasonal diseases

Health Department sources claimed that there was a perceptible dip in the number of patients being admitted to hospitals with seasonal diseases such as dengue fever, H1N1 (influenza), chikungunya, and typhoid. Breeding of mosquitoes has reduced apparently as heavy rains have prevented stagnation of water.

However, there could be more cases of leptospirosis this time, if the current numbers are any indication. Already, 71 cases have been reported from the district. While there were two deaths due to the disease last year, three people have died of it till July 31 this year. There were three Japanese encephalitis cases in the past two months and one death.

Spread by sandflies

Leishmaniasis, a disease spread by sandflies, too was reported in the district recently and the source of the infection is yet to be ascertained. As the incubation period for leishmaniasis is between two weeks to several months, it will take time to figure out how and when the patient was infected. The last time it was reported from Kozhikode was around a decade ago. There were three suspected cases of shigella infection among children, though lab results turned out to be negative later.

A senior Health Department official, who did not wish to be quoted, said there were many cases of undetected or under-detected diseases too. He pointed out that many cases of leptospirosis were reaching the medical college hospital in the final stage of infection after it affected organs such as liver, brain and heart. When the patient dies, the cause is being described as “multiple organ dysfunctioning syndrome” and not leptospirosis.

Types of dengue

The number of affected persons in jaundice outbreaks are being under-reported often, it has been claimed. Although many people are seeking treatment for fever, many are included on the list of “suspected dengue case”. Though there are different types of dengue, the Health workers here don’t have the equipment to diagnose them. Also, the medical investigation into deaths are not being taken up assessing the medical history of the patients.

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