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Cost of Chikingunya

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  • Cost of Chikingunya

    Study warns of another outbreak of chikungunya
    By Ashraf Padanna

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A study on the socioeconomic and health impact of this year’s chikungunya outbreak in Kerala has warned that one more outbreak would break the economic backbone of the state’s low-income people.
    Chikungunya has got a relatively high rate of incidence on the poor and the phenomenon is highly regressive on the wellbeing of the society at large and the low-income families in particular.
    The study conducted by the University of Kerala, Virology Institute, Pune, N S Memorial Hospital, Kollam, and the city-based Population Health and Research Institute and Knowledge Synergy Systems suggests immediate implementation of a social health insurance scheme to ensure that families affected by such maladies do not find themselves financially devastated.
    “In more than half the chikungunya cases, the expense on treatment exceeded their meager monthly income. And around one-thirds of the infected-people’s work efficiency has been decreased and this has badly affected their capacity to earn a living as muscle/joint pains caused by the infection are lasting more than a year,” it says.
    The study also warns that the disease has got a negative effect on the life span of the people which in turn tarnishes the image of the state having achieved quality of life comparable to the advanced nations.
    “It’s shameful that the state lacked a good centre for virology tests. In most of the cases, the virus in the blood sample ceases to exist when it reaches Pune and the conclusion would be it’s not a case of chikungunya. Early diagnosis and immediate eradication of the virus is absolutely essential and this calls for the establishment of virology centres like the one in Pune in different parts of the country, especially in a high density State like Kerala,” researchers KT Shenoy, V Nandamohan and Leena KV said.
    As the incidence of chikungunya was significantly high during monsoon, it can cause a chaotic situation if not managed properly on a war-footing, they said. Those with illness were older in age by a factor of six years and the average age was 36 in those with illness and 30 in those without signs of infection.
    Recently, researchers at Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology here had developed a new diagnostic test to distinguish chikungunya from dengue viruses. The test kit works as early as the second or third day of symptoms enabling early detection of the diseases spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that have initial symptoms of fever and joint pains.
    The test uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods that rapidly produce thousands of copies of a gene. It contains two sets of gene probes — one common to all four types of dengue, and another specific to chikungunya.
    Chikungunya virus reappeared in India in 2006 after a gap of 32 years, with the health ministry reporting 1.3mn cases from 13 states. Officials estimate this year’s outbreak in Kerala affected 7,000 people.
    This time, outbreaks were a different strain from the one reported in the 1970s as it carried a genetic mutation that helps the virus adapt better to the host mosquitoes and multiply more efficiently, which could be a reason for the severe outbreak in Kerala.

    Gulf Times - Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper published in Qatar and provide the latest information locally and internationally.