Hospitals on Saturday confirmed four more dengue deaths during the week, taking Delhi’s unofficial toll to 22 even as fresh showers threaten to spur mosquito breeding and intensify the outbreak.
Children continue to be the worst hit with three of the four victims being younger than 18 years of age.
The newly-appointed Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Dr Soumya Swaminathan clarified that there is no new mutant strain of dengue in the outbreak affecting Delhi and added that if citizens do their bit then the epidemic can come under control very soon.
In an interview, Swaminathan, a paediatrician and a researcher on infectious diseases, says that four sero types circulate in India and this year, Delhi is seeing more of sero type 4 and 2.
Excerpts of the interview:
Is this scare on dengue genuine, is this an epidemic or an outbreak and is it something we should be deeply worried about?
What we are seeing this year is what we see every year, during and after the monsoon, and from what we know so far, of the number of cases and the sero types of dengue virus that are circulating, we are seeing the same pattern as we have seen in previous years. There are four sero types of the dengue virus, 1, 2, 3 and 4. It looks like the dengue sero type 4 and 2 are more common this year. Every year there is a different sero type that is more common and that varies from year to year. The clinical manifestations are also the same.
Is there a new strain of dengue that is more virulent this year?
No, there is no new strain of dengue, it is the same strains of dengue. We have are four sero types that circulate in India and this year, in Delhi we are seeing more of sero type 4 and 2.
Do you think the epidemic has peaked or it will peak a little later?
The epidemic, typically, peaks in the month of October, post monsoon. But, this year because we have not seen much rain in Delhi and there is no water stagnation, it is possible that it is already peaking and that we may see an actual decline in the cases in the next few weeks. If it rains again, and water starts collecting here and there, there are chances of a rise.
Read:Dengue can strike multiple times, infections get deadlier