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chikungunya has re-emerged in Maharashtra, like it had in 2006. This time round, Kolhapur is the worst-affected
district with 22 cases reported in April and May, followed by Sangli with four cases, says P P Doke, deputy director of health services, Maharashtra
government. There are a total of 30 confirmed chikungunya cases in Maharashtra at present.
"Kolhapur has been affected largely because of its geographic position. It is close to the Karnataka border where districts like Belgam are already
affected," says B R Chavan, deputy director of health, Kolhapur. "But the cases are sporadic," he adds. Substantial amount of funds to deal with
chikungunya were left unused last year. Doke explains that they had received the funds as late as March 2007, so there wasn't much time to spend
the money. But this time the funds have been deployed properly and precautionary measures taken, he says.
The state government claims to have undertaken various measures to deal with the menacing viral fever. There is strict surveillance. Larval density
is being monitored because a high larval density can serve as a warning signal. In such a case, the area within a five km radius is alerted. Anti-larval
oils are also being used. "We observe korda divas or 'dry day' once a week when all containers are washed and dried to interrupt larval
breeding," says Chavan.
Chikungunya is a fever caused by alphavirus carried by an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. They breed in stagnant water. The fever
is rarely fatal but it comes with rashes and debilitating multiple joint-aches (arthritis) which often last for days after the fever is gone.