Though the dengue incidence has been relatively low this season, the administration is alert to the lurking threat posed by the mosquito-borne disease, going by the pattern of outbreaks over the previous years.
A slew of measures, some of them generic to the preparedness of the northeast monsoon such as the de-clogging of canals/drain systems and others specifically targeting localised breeding grounds of the vector Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, are being undertaken across Puducherry as Health authorities anxiously look to offset another seasonal bout of dengue cases that could cut into vital resources deployed for managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though dengue cases are sporadically reported through the year, the months between August and November are when the number of cases peak.
Over the years, the dengue strike pattern has usually begun with a few cases in August, infection levels peaking in September and October before starting to taper off by November-January.
So far this year, 564 patients have tested positive for dengue and between October and November only about 20 cases have been reported. Puducherry has reported one death this year so far.
From 4,568 dengue cases and seven deaths in 2017 to 2038 cases and two deaths the previous year, there has been a turnaround from the high morbidity-low-mortality situation that prevailed in Puducherry for the last few years.
With the Health Department already on high alert and inter-department coordination primed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, dengue prevention was a component of COVID reviews virtually every day, said T. Arun, Health Secretary and District Collector.
There have also been one inter-department consultative meeting convened at the level of the Chief Minister and two rounds at the ministerial review to address the clogging of canals and blockages in the drainage system before the onset of the northeast monsoon. Daily briefings called for by Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi on the COVID-19 situation have also focused on inter-linking departments such as Health, PWD and Municipalities for dengue prevention measures.
The traditional dengue hotspots in the city include Lawspet, Maduvapet, Krishna Nagar, Lambert Saravanan Nagar, Rainbow Nagar, Kumaraguru Pallam, Vaithikuppam, Kurussukuppam and Dubrayapet. This year, the Health Department has flagged at least 21 vulnerable areas falling under eight PHC jurisdictions in Puducherry for intensive prevention drives.
These places include low lying residential neighbourhoods such as Ramalinga Nagar, Vaithikkuppam and Ganeshnagar (Muthialpet PHC), Krishna Nagar, Samipillaithottam (Lawspet), Lambert Saravanan Nagar and Bommianpet (Reddiarpalayam), Rainbow Nagar, Thirumudisethuram Nagar (Odiansalai), Nonakuppam, Sivalingapuram (Thavalakuppam), Nadaraj Nagar, Samiyarthoppu (Villianur) and Thidir Nagar and Mariamman Koil Street (Kalapet).
Apart from source reduction initiatives and awareness campaigns in the form of rallies, video messaging, posters and pamphlets, the administration has also been cracking the whip on establishments that fail to maintain hygiene at premises, Mr. Arun said.