The dengue virus, which causes fever and acute pain in the joints, has taken a more potent form this year, with city doctors seeing an increasing number of cases where the virus is attacking the liver, making the patient's recovery tougher and longer.
People with the condition, dengue hepatitis, have high fever and their liver functions at levels 20 times higher than normal, resulting in the organ suffering extensive damage and, in extreme cases, even failing.
Though there is no accurate figure about the number of patients suffering from dengue hepatitis - not all private hospitals and clinics report their numbers to the BMC - medical practitioners say 90 per cent of their dengue patients have the condition.
Patients of dengue hepatitis include activist Simpreet Singh, who brought the spotlight on the Adarsh Housing Society scam. Singh is currently on ventilator at the Nerul’s DY Patil Hospital. A hospital spokesperson said that Singh was being monitored constantly.
Another patient, Mulund resident SK Bharadwaj, 61, is admitted to the ICU of Fortis Hospital. “He had fever for the past few days after which we admitted him to a local nursing home,” said Siddharth, Bharadwaj’s son. “His platelet count was extremely low due to which and tests confirmed dengue after which we transferred him to Fortis.”
“Nearly all the patients I have attended to lately had dengue hepatitis, in which the dengue virus enters the enterohepatic circulation,” said Dr Pratit Samdani, a senior physician attached to Bhatia, Jaslok, Breach Candy and Saifee hospitals. “In such cases, the dengue fever lasts longer, more than a week, and leaves the patient very frail.”
Enterohepatic circulation is the circulation of bile salts and other secretions from the liver to the intestine, where they are reabsorbed into the blood stream and returned to the liver.
According to Dr Samdani, the condition is so severe that patients’ liver function tests - SGOT (Serum Glutamic Oxaloacetic Transaminase) and SGPT (Serum Glutamic Pyruvic Transaminase) - show levels up to 20 times higher than normal.
“Levels ranging between 30 and 45 are considered normal. However, I am seeing patients with levels between 100 and 900, which is very scary,” said Samdani, who is currently monitoring the treatment of five dengue hepatitis patients.