The health machinery in the district has begun measures to prevent chikungunya – a disease caused by alpha virus that is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Health officials also say no case of chikungunya has been reported in the district so far. The ongoing measures are only to check the spread of the disease from Kerala. The health machinery has swung into preventive action following instructions to this effect from District Collector Neeraj Mittal at a recent meeting.
Deputy Director of Health Services R.T. Porkai Pandian says that chikungunya screening and counselling booths are being established at 10 checkposts along the border, right from Anamalai that is south of the city to Karamadai in the north. The chosen locations include Walayar, Sholayar Dam, Ramapattinam and Chokkanur.
Coimbatore has stepped up vigil as it shares borders with that State at nearly 10 places. Though the borders are extremely porous, regular transport routes are being brought under a scanner.
A doctor, a health inspector and paramedical staff will screen people entering the district from Kerala for symptoms of chikungunya such as high fever, headache and a crippling pain in the joints. These booths will advise people with chikungunya not to travel to other areas as they may contribute to the spread of the disease.
“We cannot forcibly prevent anyone from entering the district. We can only advise them against doing so if they have fever. Chikungunya is a notified disease. So, we have to take all possible measures to prevent its spread,” says Dr. Pandian.
City Health Officer of Coimbatore Corporation M. Thangaraj says the civic body has put up a booth at the Ukkadam Bus Stand from where buses come in every five minutes from Kerala. There is a huge flow of passengers to and from Kerala, especially the neighbouring district of Palakkad. That is why such a booth is necessary at this bus stand, he says.
The only comforting news now is that no case of chikungunya has been reported from Palakkad. Those reported are in the southern districts of Kerala. There is extra vigil in the adjoining areas in Tamil Nadu. Yet, similar measures are being taken up here also because of Coimbatore being a border district.
Dr. Thangaraj says a booth will also be established at the railway junction as there are trains coming through districts in Kerala. Dr. Pandian says another booth will come up at the airport (as there is a flight from Kozhikode).
Fogging has begun to eliminate mosquitoes. The Coimbatore Health Unit District has eight fogging machines and the local bodies across the district too have these. “A door-to-door drive is on for the last four days in the rural areas to advise people not to store fresh water in open containers. Such storage will provide breeding space for mosquitoes,” says Dr. Pandian. (Aedes aegypti breeds only in fresh water/rainwater).
Dr. Thangaraj says the Corporation’s health wing too has begun such a drive. “A meeting of Corporation doctors was held recently. All the 20 urban health posts and 15 dispensaries have been asked to watch out for cases of fever coming in for treatment. We are collecting a daily report from these health centres. Private hospitals and clinics have also been asked to give reports every day,” he says.
As for preventing the breeding of mosquitoes, two workers have been allocated to each of the 72 wards in the Corporation limits to mix an anti-larval solution in fresh water in every house. Fresh water stored in the open for washing or that stagnates in discarded buckets, tins and coconut shells serve as breeding ground.
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