Delhi battles severe dengue outbreak, 'worst yet to come'

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 15, 2015 15:55 IST
A packed emergency ward at Safdarjung Hospital on Monday. The city has reported 1,872 dengue cases so far. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

With more than 1,800 cases and five deaths reported till September 12, Delhi-NCR is witnessing the worst outbreak of dengue since 2010. Public health professionals, however, said the worst is yet to come.

“The disease normally peaks in the second and third week of October, so the numbers are going to go further up,” said Dr Ekta Gupta, additional professor at the department of virology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.

As many as 1,872 cases and five deaths have been reported in the national capital region so far, threatening to touch the high numbers of 2010 when mismanagement by civic authorities during Commonwealth Games pushed the death toll to eight with 6,259 infections reported. Of these, 1,933 cases were reported in the corresponding period, which means more than 4,300 people were infected in the peak October season.

The Centre blamed the weather pattern, saying it was difficult to eliminate the disease as dengue mosquitoes get active with an increase in humidity. “An upsurge in dengue cases in many states was predicted this year because of the rain pattern, circulation of different dengue virus strains and other factors, which is why preparatory activities were started much before the transmission period in March,” said Dr Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services (DGHS), Union health ministry.

Read | Dengue crisis: Govt scrambles to add beds, open fever clinics

The “preparatory activities”, however, seem ineffective as infections have been rising steadily with 613 reported last week compared to 428 the week before and 301 in the end of August. This year’s figures are also considerably higher than last year when 55 cases were reported till the second week of September.

“The cases may be higher but the case-fatality ratio is much less… The only way to control the disease is by taking preventive measures,” Prasad said.

The Delhi government, too, put the onus on the public. “As dengue mosquito breeds in fresh water, people need to be careful to not let water collect around them,” said health minister Satyendar Jain.

Both governments may want to take inspiration from China which went beyond preventive measures to control the disease. In an unusual move, the Chinese city of Guangzhou, which houses the world’s largest mosquito factory, released one million sterilised mosquitoes last month to dilute mosquito population with insects that don’t carry infection. Field trials showed the population of dengue-carrying mosquitoes came down by 90%.


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