Twelve dengue patients from the city are suffering from an infection from a virus mimicking chikungunya, a phenomenon which has killed at least 20 people in Delhi so far, said doctors.
The patients have been kept under observation at the civic-run Kasturba Hospital and their blood samples will be sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, to identify the strain mimicking the vector-borne virus. The reports are expected in four to five weeks.
The number of chikungunya cases in the state has more than doubled between January and September this year, said officials, adding 207 cases were reported last year. Of the 637 cases recorded in Maharashtra this year, 500 were from Pune city and Pune rural areas.
Dr Om Srivastava, head of infectious diseases cell, Jaslok hospital, who works closely with the state vector control cell, said patients at Kasturba Hospital have tested negative for the DNA Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, used as a diagnostic tool for chikungunya. “The patients suffering from dengue have joint pain and fever, which are symptoms of chikungunya infection. But as the tests are negative, we suspect it is a different strain of virus which is mimicking chikungunya,” said Srivastava. “We cannot say Mumbai is under the twin attack of chikungunya and dengue, which increases the mortality rate in patients.”
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, is treating 112 people for chikungunya, 11 of whom have contracted dengue too. The number of chikungunya cases reached 3,695 in the Capital, data released by municipal corporations showed. They have recorded 1,692 cases of dengue so far.
“Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes spread both the viruses. The outbreak of chikungunya is controlled as there are fewer cases of dengue,” said Dr Lalit Dar, a professor of microbiology at AIIMS, Delhi.
In Mumbai, other civic-run hospitals have witnessed only singular cases of twin attacks of viruses. “We have treated isolated dengue patients suffering from chikungunya-like symptoms, but none have tested positive. The symptoms are similar, but the strain of the virus might be different,” said Dr ND Moulik, head, general medicine, Sion Hospital.
Officials of the state vector control cell (VCC) said they are also looking into the issue. “I spoke with the director of NIV. So far, no mutation has been recorded. Chikungunya cases have risen in the state, but not in Mumbai,” said Kanchal Jagtap, director, VCC.