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Delhi turns disease capital

delhi Updated: Oct 24, 2010 23:10 IST
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Delhi is a city beleaguered — by infections. The number of cases of diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria is at an all-time high in the Capital.

Added to this, cases of influenza A H1N1, also known as swine flu, seasonal flu, common cold and fever are also being reported in large numbers from across the city.

On Sunday, 81 new cases of dengue were reported, taking the total number of affected persons to 5,063.

Eight people have died of the disease so far, this year.

Fifteen out of the 33 cases of chikungunya (another mosquito-borne infection that causes moderate fever and severe joint pain) that have been recorded in the Capital this year, have tested positive in October alone.

This is the first time that the number of chikungunya cases has gone above 12 in the city in a season.

In case of H1N1, although numbers have come down substantially, seven new cases have also been reported during the past four days.

The total number of H1N1 cases has gone up to 11,163.

Health experts call it an aftermath of the unusual rains that Delhi witnessed this monsoon, and the large-scale construction due to the Commonwealth Games (CWG), with its concomitant health hazards.

“There is a 30% decrease in dengue cases as we were getting an average of 90 patients in September. But

the situation remains alarming, as hospitals across the Capital are packed and the public is worried,” said Dr VK Monga, chairman, public health committee, Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

“This trend may continue till the end of October. Dengue data for the last four years suggests that the number of cases in October has always been higher than in September,” he said.

Dr Monga, however expressed worry over the growing cases of chikungunya, which is also a mosquito-borne infection. “If not contained in time, chikungunya can pose a major public health hazard. We are taking measures but the public needs to be careful too,” he said.

Meanwhile, most city hospitals — government and private — are reporting 100% occupancy. The medicine and emergency wards are full of dengue, chikungunya and flu patients.

Government hospitals choc-a-bloc

Faridabad resident Nirmala Devi, 50, was admitted to the emergency ward of the Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital in Shahdara east on Tuesday, after exhibiting signs of acute dengue and a platelet count lower than 7,000.

For two days at the hospital, Nirmala Devi was sharing a single mattress with another dengue patient, who was discharged on Thursday evening. Twin-sharing and sometimes triple-sharing of beds is a common sight in the medical ward of the GTB Hospital, due to huge rush of patients.

The Safdarjung Hospital in south Delhi is also receiving a huge dengue patient load. Being a tertiary care hospital, it cannot refuse a patient, resulting in the medicine wards overflowing with fever cases, the most prominent among them being dengue.

The story in the OPD is no different. “Out of about 20 new cases that I see in my OPD, 10 are fever cases, and atleast five of them are dengue cases,” said Dr Naval Vikram, associate professor of Medicine, AIIMS.

Private hospitals report 100% occupancy

Most big private hospitals in the Capital are packed to capacity. The Apollo hospital in Sarita Vihar and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Rajinder Nagar were reported to be occupied to capacity, after Hindustan Times carried out an independent

survey.

“While there may be slight pressure because of a sudden spurt in dengue cases, there is a general shortage of beds throughout the year,” said a spokesperson of Gangaram Hospital.

Even at the Apollo hospital, it is difficult to find a bed at any time of the year, and this, claim hospital authorities is because about 50% of their patients are from outside Delhi.

“The pressure on occupancy is intense. We are seeing a fair number of patients with febrile (of or relating to feverishness) illnesses, not just in medicine but also in paediatrics,” said Dr. Anupam Sibal, director and senior paediatric surgeon at Apollo Hospitals.

“The number of confirmed dengue cases has gone down but a lot of patients with febrile illness, with severe joint pain and rash are coming in. Our OPDs are very crowded but occupancy is about 70%,” said Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, director, internal medicine at Max Hospital, Saket.