The rains have brought back the annual dengue season along with fears of severe illness and hospitalisation. And the seasonal influenza outbreak is not helping matters, with every bout of high fever lasting more than a couple of days, making people wonder whether they need to get tested for dengue.
First, the good news. Dengue numbers in Delhi and the NCR are down from last year's 66 cases to 10 this year. Instead, it is the other mosquito menace, malaria, that is plaguing the Capital. This year, 122 people have been diagnosed with malaria, compared to 88 last year.Two weeks ago, Rakesh Mangal, 42, who runs a plastic factory in north Delhi's Bawana area, had to be admitted to a hospital. He was diagnosed with malaria. Mangal blames the mosquito breeding in and around his factory for catching the disease that spreads through mosquitoes.
"I started running a very high temperature that went up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and I also developed shivers, especially at night. When the fever did not subside even after taking paracetamol tablets for a few days, I went to Fortis Hospital, where the doctor told me it was due to a mosquito bite," said Mangal, who was admitted at Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh.
"Mosquitoes swarm around the open drains near my Bawana factory area. I complained to the municipal corporation-run clinic in the area, but the doctor did not pay any attention," he added.
Mangal is one of the 122 Delhiites who tested positive for malaria this season. The official figures show a steep rise in the number of malaria cases in the city as compared to other fatal mosquito-borne diseases — dengue and chikungunya, this year.
"One of the reasons for high malaria numbers could be that we have added more laboratories this year for testing malaria cases, and have further intensified disease surveillance," said NK Yadav, health officer, department of public health, unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
According to the official figures this year, dengue cases have dropped sharply. Ten cases of dengue have been reported so far this year as compared to 66 last year. Six people have tested positive for chikungunya.
Data from just four private city hospitals — Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Indraprastha Apollo — however, shows 12 positive dengue cases since January.
Civic authorities claimed that the numbers in private hospitals were higher because people from neighbouring states also went to private hospitals, which they did not count as Delhi cases.
"If we include figures of all people who test positive in the city that comes about 22, but they are from outside Delhi and aren't counted," said Yadav.
There is a sense of relief though, as health experts claim the strains of malaria and dengue seen this year are mild, hence, not life-threatening.
"Most of my patients have responded well to the first line of treatment—chloroquine, which is a very good sign. Otherwise the disease has been around for so long that people tend to develop a resistance to drugs," said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, department of internal medicine, Apollo Hospital.
"Dengue cases have also been very mild, such that there has been no need for hospitalisation. We only asked them to take rest for a week," said Dr SP Byotra, chairperson, department of medicine, Ganga Ram Hospital.