More than 400 cases of chikungunya were recorded in Delhi in the past week, health officials said on Monday, as the mosquito-borne disease that causes debilitating joint pain threatened to replace dengue as the Capital’s most widespread monsoon ailment.
Officials said 412 new cases of chikungunya were reported last week, taking the total this year to 432. The same period saw 176 new dengue cases, taking the number to 487 this year. Two of them have died.
Though both diseases are spread by the day-biting aedes aegypti mosquito, fatalities are rare in chikungunya and patients hardly need hospitalisation. Besides acute joint pain and swelling, the disease also causes fever.
“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 south Delhi’s upscale Jaunapur, chikungunya has hit almost every home. Chartered accountant Manjit Singh Kalha, 41, said he couldn’t get out of bed for four days since August 20.
“The pain was unbearable and I could not work for more than a week,” he said. At his neighbour’s farm too, three people are down.
Shivani Wazir, joint secretary of the Jaunapur Residents’ Welfare Association blamed “uncleared garbage dumps and low-lying land full of rainwater” for the disease.
The Municipal Council of Delhi, however, accused hospitals of reporting cases late. “The data is not real time. Hospitals send data after a person has been treated and discharged, so backlog cases are added all at once,” said a health official.