There has been a 50% rise in dengue cases between 2012 and 2014, according to Maharashtra health department data. Dengue cases in the state increased from 4,305 in 2012 to 5,610 in 2013 and to 8,425 in 2014.
According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of dengue cases across all states in India. Urban pockets, including Mumbai, Pune and rural areas of Chandrapur and Bhandara, had majority of the dengue cases, said state health officials.
Compared to dengue, the incidence of malaria, another disease transmitted by mosquitoes, rose only 22% during the said period. “This change in the diseases pattern is a result of replacement morbidity, a scientific phenomenon where one disease is replaced by another for various factors,” said Dr AK Niswade, dean, Nagpur Medical College which treated more than 1,600 suspected dengue cases last year, and reported more than 50 suspected dengue- related deaths.
Though the number of cases has increased significantly, mortality or the number of death as a result of dengue has marginally dropped. Private doctors, however, said the number of dengue-related deaths has risen. According to them, the number of deaths is higher than what is reported because the health department counts only confirmed dengue-related deaths.
Experts said unlike the anopheles mosquito, which transmits malaria and breeds outdoors, dengue spreading mosquito — Aedes — is known to breed indoors, making it even more challenging to curb.
“Rampant construction activities in cities and semi-urban areas along with indoor breeding are to be blamed for the growth of dengue. Also, it is a cyclical trend for dengue cases to rise, but that does not mean we should allow the disease to spread. Hence, curbing potential breeding sites is key,” said, Dr BS Kamble, assistant director, state health department.
To avoid a further rise in cases, the state health department has set a month-wise target of various activities to eliminate breeding sites and create awareness about the disease.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has also undertaken similar activities to eliminate indoor breeding. Last year, Mumbai reported 861 confirmed dengue cases and 12 deaths. This year, the city has reported one dengue death, that of an infant. But the BMC is yet to confirm it was a dengue-related death.