The government Wednesday admitted that four Indian states have been badly hit by Chikungunya, a devastating viral illness that resembles dengue fever, but it claimed there have been no causalities so far.
The states affected with Chikungunya fever during the current year are Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala, Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told the Lok Sabha.
'At least 121 districts in these seven states have been affected with total of 974, 541 suspected cases,' the minister said replying to a calling attention motion moved by TDP member Yerran Naidu over the situation arising out of the spread of Chikungunya fever in various parts of the country, particularly in Andhra Pradesh.
Ramadoss said that Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have been worst affected by the viral illness, which according to him, is not fatal.
'It is caused by Chikungunya virus. It is spread by the bite of female Aedes mosquitoes, primarily Aedes Aegypti. Humans are considered to be the major sources or reservoir of Chikungunya virus for mosquitoes,' the minister, himself a medical practitioner, said.
'There is no vaccine or specific medicine available against the infection. There is no specific cure too. The symptoms can be alleviated by taking pain relieving drugs like paracetamol, plenty of fluids and normal diet.'
Ramadoss assured that the government was 'actively monitoring the situation and assisting State governments to prevent its spread'.
'The affected states have been provided detailed guidelines for prevention and control of Chikungunya,' he said.
Naidu contested the minister's statement and claimed that more than 600,000 were suffering from the viral fever in Andhra Pradesh itself. He wanted a 'health emergency' to be declared in the state.
Congress party MP Tejashwini Ramesh urged the central government to provide special assistance for the poultry farmers in Karnataka as misinformation about Chikungunya had affected them adversely.
'People in the rural areas believe the disease had something to do with chicken. So the poultry industry was hit by it,' Ramesh pointed out.