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Bangalore, Apr 8: The Aedes aegypti mosquito that causes chikungunya now seems to have bitten Bangaloreans. At least 15 persons, suspected to be suffering from the viral infection, have been admitted to the Epidemic Diseases (ED) Hospital here.

Some were referred to the KC General Hospital. The patients were brought to the hospital from slums in Sanjay Nagar on Thursday April 6. They had symptoms of high fever, severe pain in the joints and in some cases red eyes.

Their blood samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Victoria Hospital for serological confirmation. The directorate of health and family welfare said there has been an outbreak in the city and that healthcare experts are on alert. 
At the ED Hospital, patients were provided with mosquito nets and treated with anti-inflammatory and analgesics. "Some who have secondary infection are treated with antibiotics. This disease is not fatal. Nor is it contagious.

But, we don't have any specific drug to treat the infected. We only treat them for symptoms of pain and fever. The infection goes down automatically," said institute director Dr C R Thyagaraja.

According to senior officials in the health and family welfare directorate, the disease could have spread because of long storage of drinking water by the residents.

"We are told that the supply of water is only once every two days and many residents prefer to store water in huge containers. Water is stored for weeks together. This could have been a fine breeding ground for the mosquito.

The situation was similar in other districts," said Dr Prasad M G, director, health and family welfare. Virologists say the diagnosis of the disease is not easy even through blood tests.

"It took two months for a Pune institute to confirm the disease when it was first detected in Gulbarga. Apparently, mapping this strain isn't easy and at times it's too vague," Dr Prasad said.

At least 80,000 people in Gulbarga, Tumkur, Bidar, Raichur, Bellary, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Kolar and Bijapur are affected since December 2005.


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