Out of the 21 confirmed cases of the dengue haemorrhagic fever so far in the district, 15 belong to the age group of 18 to 40 years, according to data with the district health department. Health department officials say that people under 40 years of age have been the worst hit by dengue, as they are exposed to environments that carry a higher risk of the infection.
Only two cases of dengue have been reported in the age group of below 18 years, with none of the cases belonging to those who are 10 years of age. Five patients are above 40, including a senior citizen. “People in the age of group of 18-40 years are usually more exposed to different environments that carry a higher risk of the dengue infection. Workplaces, parks, markets and community areas are often the breeding grounds for mosquitoes where people belonging to the ‘active age group’ mostly frequents,” said Dr Ram Prakash Rai, district epidemiologist.
Rai added that this has been the trend in the district for the past several years. “Last year too, out of the confirmed 66 dengue cases, over 70% cases were of people below 40 years,” he said.
Dengue is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which typically attacks below the elbow and the knee. Doctors say that mosquito is most active during the day, for approximately two hours after the sunrise and several hours before the sunset. It is known to breed in fresh water, in areas which are cool and shaded.
Dr Manjeeta Das, internal medicine specialist, Columbia Asia Hospital, too said that 90% of the cases she has seen this season — which usually starts in June and lasts till mid-December — belonged to the age group of 18 to 40 years. “Young adults tend to be more callous towards their health. They tend to ignore the fever and take over-the-counter medicines, which only lower their platelet count,” Das said, adding that the carefree attitude towards health among young adults might also be because of the fact that they tend to live alone in the city.
Das said that children are equally vulnerable to the disease but they are usually looked after. “Parents make sure their children apply mosquito repellents and wear clothes that cover most of their body. But they themselves wrongly believe that they are immune to the disease,” she said.
Dr Amitabh Parthi, head of internal medicine, Fortis Hospital, too confirmed that 60-70% of his patients who are tested positive with dengue belong to the younger age group. “Majority of the victims are men, as they are more exposed to the potential breeding grounds,” he said.
Doctors recommended people under the age of 40 should take precautionary measures to prevent the disease. “They should make sure that they eat healthy food on time and consume lots of water to boost immunity. They should also avoid self medication and go to a hospital in case of a fever that lasts for more than two consecutive days,” Das said.