Dengue deaths made public after months of delays

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For health officials who insisted that dengue was under control, the disclosure of three deaths, one of which harked back to late February but never disclosed to the public, proves somewhat of an embarrassment.

According to Dr Sajjan Shetty, joint director of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBCP), the deaths were not disclosed until Monday because a meeting of the State Dengue Audit Committee had not been held to discuss the matter. 

“Until May, we had just one confirmed death and at the time, we were focused on addressing other diseases including H1N1. Following the meeting of the audit committee on July 15, we moved to disclose the confirmed deaths to the public,” Dr Shetty said.

Further complicating matters, according to Dr Mahmood Shariff, research officer for the NVBCP, was the fact that at least one of the three deaths in the official tally did not test positive for dengue.

According to Dr Shetty, a further 11 fatalities have been audited into the “unconfirmed” category. The audit committee still has to assess these cases, he explained.

Of the confirmed cases, all three victims were female and two were children. According to the Department of Health, the first victim was a 14-year-old girl named Deepa Bhai of Ramanagara, who after coming down with the illness was rushed to the RR Medical Hospital in Bengaluru. Doctors rapidly diagnosed her with dengue, but she had developed other complications such as septicemia. 

She died of multiple organ failure on February 25. 

The second victim perished on May 20. Thirteen-year-old Keerthana from Holalkere was initially admitted to a hospital in Chitradurga but was rushed to the KMC hospital upon diagnosis. She soon developed fatal complications, including hemorrhaging. The third victim was a 45-year-old woman named Veena from Puttur taluk, who was also rushed to the KMC Hospital in late June, and died after suffering multiple-organ failure on June 26. 

“We did not have a positive diagnosis, but based on epidemiological reports and the opinion of the treating doctor, we regarded this case as a suspected case of dengue,” said Dr Shariff.

“She also originated from a locality where other dengue cases had been diagnosed,” he added.

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