After a spurt in the number of dengue cases in the state over the past two months, the state health department has asked the National Institute of Virology (NIV) to determine whether the rise has stemmed from behavioral changes in the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which spreads the disease.
The decision to approach NIV was taken at a meeting of the State Communicable Diseases Prevention Committee at Matralaya on Friday. At the meeting, Dr Deepak Sawant, public health minister, said there have been reports that changes to the mosquito’s flying pattern have been affecting the spread of the disease. “It can now fly for longer and at higher altitude than before. Hence, we decided to ask NIV to study the changes so that we can decide what to do to contain the spread of the disease,” said Sawant.
Admitting the number of dengue cases in the state rose in July and August, he said in Mumbai alone, 122 people have tested positive for dengue and another 1,000 are suspected to have contracted the disease. The number of confirmed cases of dengue across Maharashtra is 2,572. Most of them were reported in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik and Ahmednagar district.
“We have asked doctors not to disclose suspected dengue cases as it will lead to unnecessary panic. They have been directed to report only confirmed cases,” Sawant said.
In the case of malaria, the situation has improved, said Sawant. The number of malaria cases in reported the state between January and August this year was 15,921, 47% less than in the corresponding period last year, when 30,223 cases were reported, he said.
As for chikungunya, the committee found that Pune is the worst-affected district, with 90% of all cases. Of the 439 people who have tested positive for chikungunya, 393 are from Pune. Other districts where the disease has been reported are Nashik, Satara, Ahmednagar and Amrawati. No cases of chikunguya have been reported in Mumbai so far this year, the minister said.
He also warned private pathology centres not to charging exorbitant prices for medical tests. “The state government will take stern action against them if they are found charging excessive rates,” Dr Sawant said.