Delhi faces off-season sting scare as chikungunya, dengue cases rise
Delhi has recorded 79 cases of chikungunya since January this year, with eight cases being recorded in the first week of April alone. Since January, 24 cases of dengue have also been recorded, even though this is not the season for the spread of the mosquito-borne illnesses.delhi Updated: Apr 20, 2017 15:27 IST
Union health minister JP Nadda on Wednesday conducted a review meeting for dengue and chikungunya situation in the city.
Delhi has recorded 79 cases of chikungunya since January this year, with eight cases being recorded in the first week of April alone. Since January, 24 cases of dengue have also been recorded, even though this is not the season for the spread of the mosquito-borne illnesses.
“The volume of cases of dengue and chikungunya were very high in the last two years. So there will definitely be a spill-over, which is what we are seeing now. However, these numbers do not mean that there will be an outbreak in Delhi this year too,” said Dr Sujatha Sunil, group leader, Vector Borne Diseases Group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
This year, 20 cases of chikungunya were reported in January, 13 in February, 34 in March and eight till April 8. Almost no cases of chikungunya were reported during the same period previous years.
For dengue, six cases were reported in January this year, four in February, 11 in March and three till April 8. Hardly any cases have been recorded in the same period in the previous years.
Sunil believes that the time is ideal to start breeding control measures.
“Our research has found the aedes aegypti mosquitoes exist in select locations much before the start of monsoon. Once monsoon commences, the mosquito population explodes. Hence, it is crucial to initiate vector surveillance and control programmes well before the start of monsoon,” said Dr Sunil.
“These numbers are not predictive, but, if we see the weather pattern this year, even in April there are slight morning chills and early morning dew. We have also had a few showers. This water is enough to provide conducive breeding grounds for aedes aegypti mosquitoes,” she said.
This year the government and the corporations have started surveillance activities earlier. According to data provided by the municipal corporations, 77,36,220 houses have already been inspected by breeding checkers.
This year, the Delhi government has also started awareness programme for mosquito-borne diseases in March itself.
“Once an adult mosquito starts reproducing, it can give birth to 10,000 mosquitoes in a month and the population increases to 10 lakh the month after. We need to check this breeding completely. This is the reason we will be taking help from community volunteers,” said SM Raheja, head of Delhi’s dengue control cell.
Last year, awareness programme by the government was started in May. In 2015, when Delhi witnessed its worst dengue outbreak ever, the awareness campaigns had picked up from September, when several cases had been reported already.