Major Hurdles Faced While Treating Dengue

With four deaths in just three days, Dengue symptoms are back again to haunt Kolkata and neighbourhoods.  Close on the heels of death, several patients are also fighting their last battles against the epidemic in the leading hospitals of the state.  However, the doctors are still unsure about the success rate of the Dengue treatment options implemented so far. The reason is the deficit of Platelets store in the blood banks across the state.

The Scenario at Present

According to a report, currently there’s a requirement of 300 to 350 units of platelet daily to combat the growing intensity of Dengue. However, the actual storage falls  highly short of this  requirement which is  taking a  toll  on  the patients  fighting against  this  disease. Along with internal haemorrhage or leakage of water from blood vessels (the typical Dengue symptoms), the new Dengue symptom of fever is actually turning the immune system hyperactive, throwing it out of gear. No wonder, it leads you to death, said a senior consultant at a renowned multi-specialty hospital in Kolkata. Moreover, the huge shortage of platelet is adding up to their concern.

As per the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), the way Dengue symptoms and its virus has spread its tentacles, it seems that the outbreak of the epidemic will soon take a death toll in the city and the neighbourhood. However, the Health Department is relentlessly working on to compensate the shortage of the daily requirement of the platelets.

How Important is Platelet Count For Treating a Dengue Patient

The Dengue virus essentially affects the platelet production in a human body. Usually, the platelets in our body last for about 4 days and the body replenishes them as and when required.  But, Dengue virus destroys the body’s capacity to produce new platelets.  While the platelet count of a normal person varies from 1.5 Lakh – 2.5 Lakh per unit volume, on getting infected, the platelet count starts falling. Platelet count below 1 Lakh requires immediate medical attention is required. It turns fatal when the platelet count drops below 50K.  In such cases, immediate transfusion of platelet is important.

According to the leading physicians, platelet reduction is the only threat to a patient suffering from Dengue.  It’s also a major hurdle for Dengue fever treatment, because even after the fever subsides, patients can face issues with their platelet count. If the platelet drop can’t be controlled, the situation might turn fatal, even after the fever subsides. “Platelet count below 20K has higher chances of developing bleeding complication as seen in Dengue haemorrhagic fever”, say doctors.

Doctors’ Perspective

According to the leading physicians, Dengue virus essentially causes self-resolving fever, characterised by retro-orbital (pain behind the eye) headache, unabated body aches, abdominal pain and nausea.  However, these classic dengue symptoms seem to subside as the platelet count in the body starts rising up.

According to the new principles of WHO,  Dengue cases can be broadly classified into two groups- First, Dengue without warning signs and secondly, Dengue with warning signs ( including abdominal pain, continuous vomiting, mucosal bleed, abnormal increase in haematocrit or percentage of red blood cells in blood) that include tremendous decrease in platelet count. Sometimes, the severity occurs with excessive blood leakage, severe bleeding and multi-organ failure.