Delhi has as many as 80 cases of chikungunya and 30 of dengue, as per municipal corporation reports, since January this year. Nine of the chikungunya cases were reported this month, till April 22.
Almost no cases of both the mosquito-borne diseases were reported during the same period in the previous years.
April is typically not the season for mosquito-borne illnesses. The population of aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads dengue and chikungunya, explodes after rains usually. Dengue and chikungunya start spreading during August and peaks in October or November every year.
“The cases that are being recorded now must be the spill-over from previous years. The volume of dengue and chikungunya cases was very high in the previous years. These numbers, however, do not mean that there will be an outbreak this year too,” said Dr Sujatha Sunil, group leader, Vector Borne Diseases Group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
After massive outbreaks in 2015 and 2016, the Delhi government launched its awareness campaigns early this year. Controlling the mosquito population early on is the best way of preventing the mosquito-borne diseases.
“The best way to prevent dengue, which has become a yearly menace, is to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. Once an adult mosquito starts reproducing, it can give birth to 10,000 mosquitoes in a month. The population can increase to 10 lakh the month after. We need to check the breeding completely. So, we will be taking help from community volunteers,” said SM Raheja, head of Delhi’s dengue control cell.
The Delhi government started its awareness programmes in March this year and recruited volunteers from within the community to ensure that there is no breeding.