With Delhi reporting 128 new cases of chikungunya, the total number of people infected with the mosquito-borne viral disease has reached 560 this season.
This is an unusually high number as last year only 64 cases of chikungunya were reported.
In the last five years, the highest number of chikungunya cases – 120 – was reported in 2010.
“It’s not an outbreak but an unusually high number of cases because of a high pool of people infected and low immunity, as people in Delhi have not been exposed to the infection,” said Dr DK Seth, municipal health officer.
In Delhi, unlike dengue, chikungunya is not endemic — regularly found in a particular area. But, the numbers spiked last week, when 412 cases were registered in a single week. Before that, only one case was reported till July 30, 8 till August 13, and 20 till August 20.
In the week that ended on September 3, the civic body reported 284 cases of dengue, which takes the total in Delhi-NCR to 771.
Compared to this, 1,259 cases were reported by the civic body during the same period last year, when Delhi witnessed its worst dengue outbreak that affected almost 16,000 and killed 60.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of dengue cases. Only 29 new cases were reported in the week that ended on July 30, 57 new cases in the week ending on August 13, 83 new cases in the week ending on August 20, and 176 in the week ending on xx and 284 this week.
According to the civic body, the number of deaths due to dengue is two. But, Hindustan Times has independently confirmed six deaths.
However, unlike last year, beds in the fever wards in government and private hospitals aren’t filled to capacity as chikungunya hardly leads to complications and a mild strain of dengue – type3 – is doing the rounds.
“Experts have isolated milder type 3 strain, which doesn’t cause symptoms severe enough to require hospitalisation,” said CK Mishra, health secretary, government of India.
At Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, of the 110 beds demarcated for fever patients, only about 40 beds are occupied by dengue patients at a time. “Keeping around 10 beds as buffer, we use the rest for other cases. These beds can be used in case the number of cases go up,” said a doctor from the hospital.