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Dengue most dangerous for pregnant women, kids

Dengue
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FT ONLINE

At least two pregnant women who were down with dengue have died within a fortnight. Jesmita Haldar, a 27-year-old homemaker who had slipped into a coma after delivering a stillborn, succumbed to dengue last Friday while 24-year-old Purnima Biswas of Prince Ghulam Mohammad Shah Road died on November 3. Doctors said pregnant women and children were the most vulnerable to dengue.

“A pregnant woman is immune compromised and hence can be an easy target for dengue. In addition, some symptoms of dengue and minor health issues during pregnancy overlap. This leads to delay in detection and treatment,” said Dr Basab Mukherjee, gynaecologist with CMRI Hospital.

Haldar was 35 weeks into her pregnancy when she was rushed to Ram Krishna Mission Seva Pratishthan on October 24, where her blood sample tested positive for dengue. She was shifted to Medica Superspecialty Hospital on October 29, where she slipped into a coma two days later after delivering a stillborn. Biswas was nine months into her pregnancy when she died and the doctors failed to save the baby. On October 12, a 31-year-old suffering from dengue fever had delivered a stillborn after 36 weeks of pregnancy.

In addition to the risk to the mother, there are chances of the virus getting transmitted to the foetus. Dengue in the mother can cause still birth, low birth weight or premature delivery. “Since dengue induces fever, it could prove dangerous for both mother and the foetus unless they get timely detection and treatment,” added Mukherjee.

“Antibody enhancement during pregnancy can also lead to dengue having an adverse effect on the woman and the foetus,” said Dr Arindam Biswas, medicine consultant at Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences.

Children and elderly who have underlying medical conditions like asthma, obstructive lung diseases, heart ailments and cancer patients on chemotherapy are the ones for whom dengue can prove fatal. The outbreak this year claimed the lives of at least 10 kids, four of them struck by dengue encephalitis, a rare condition in which the dengue virus attacks the brain.

“Instead of focusing only on the dengue infection, we need to see is there are any concurrent infections,” added Biswas.

-SAM

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