Chikungunya: 2K blood samples test positive, AIIMS studying viral strain

New Delhi, Sep 23: Chikungunya cases are still on the rise in the national capital as at least 2,000 blood test samples have tested positive for chikungunya at AIIMS only, where doctors are also studying the viral strain that is in circulation.

The national capital and several other parts of north India are witnessing an outbreak of chikungunya after nearly 10 years and hospitals have reported at least 15 deaths including one at AIIMS, due to chikungunya complications.

Dengue

AIIMS, however, today asserted that chikungunya "cannot cause death" and attributed "co-morbidity" as the factor which causes fatality in rare cases.

"1 out of 1,000 people, i.e., 0.1 per cent run the risk of dying due to chikungunya complications, and that too if the patient has co-morbid conditions. Chikungunya is otherwise non-fatal," AIIMS Head of the Department of Medicine, Dr S K Sharma said.

AIIMS Director Dr M C Misra, and several other doctors from various departments today addressed a press conference before a public lecture on dengue and chikungunya fever at it campus here.

"If one analyses the deaths, attributed to chikungunya, being reported in Delhi, you would realise that most of them had co-morbid conditions, like hypertension or diabetes or kidney or other renal problems. Chikungunya as such cannot cause death," Misra said.

According to a municipal report, at least 2,625 cases of chikungunya have been reported in the national capital till September 17. Over 1,300 dengue cases and 19 deaths due to it have been also reported.

Dr Lalit Dar of Department of Microbiology at AIIMS, says, the rising cases of chikungunya after the 2006 outbreak could be due to "Delhi having a lot of migrant population and generation born after 2006."

"Since they were not exposed to the viral strain in 2006 and hence not grown immune, so they are getting affected by it," he said. According to Dar, AIIMS laboratories have "tested 3,500 cases of chikungunya samples out of which 2,000 have tested positive, nearly 58 per cent. And, for dengue, out of 8,500 samples only 474 have tested positive."

"We are also studying the virus type for the last two-and-a-half months in our labs," he said. On dengue Sharma said, "People should not chase platelet count for severity of the disease.

And, in some cases, platelet transfusion can cause complications and even hepatitits B or C. The warning signs should be bleeding and brain complications, only then they should be taken up for transfusion."

PTI

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