1st dengue death in Delhi this year as cases spike
- Usually, cases start increasing in July after the monsoon showers, and peak in October.
The national capital has reported its first death this year to the mosquito-borne viral illness dengue, and cases are on the rise, with 382 of the 723 patients in 2021 detected in October alone, according to a weekly report by municipal authorities.
The report added that 243 cases of dengue were reported in just the week-ending October 16.
To be sure, October is usually the worst month for dengue in the city. In 2020, a total of 395 cases of dengue were reported between October 1 and 16 last year, and 644 cases were logged in the same period in 2019. Delhi faced its worst dengue outbreak in 2015 when nearly 16,000 people were affected, and 60 died.
The deceased was a 35 year-old woman from Sarita Vihar who was admitted to a private hospital in the area in the late stages of the disease, according to the patient’s death summary.
At the time of admission, she had low oxygen saturation, fluid in her lungs, and a swollen liver.
On the third day of hospital admission, her heart rate dropped and her oxygen saturation dipped further, after which she was moved to the intensive care unit. She then developed brain complications and her condition deteriorated further. She died on September 26.
A death is added to the weekly report compiled by the municipal corporation only after an expert team verifies it.
“We are taking all the measures — checking breeding, conducting fogging and spraying from areas that are reporting cases, including where the death took place. However, due to heavy rainfall and dry days in between this year, mosquito breeding has increased over the last couple of months. That’s why we are seeing more cases now,” said an official from the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, on condition of anonymity.
Dengue leads to fever, body ache, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases, internal bleeding or a fatal drop in blood pressure.
Dengue cases began to rise amid a waning Covid-19 pandemic after it was identified as one of the diseases, along with scrub typhus and leptospirosis, that killed at least 51, most of them children, in Uttar Pradesh.
There are four serotypes of the dengue virus based on four different antigens — the part of the virus that attacks the body and against which antibodies are created — Type 1 and Type 3 are associated with milder disease — symptoms such as fever, headache, body ache, and pain behind the eyes. Type 2 and Type 4 with severe disease — drop in platelet count, inability to form blood clots, and internal bleeding in the former, and leaking of fluids from the capillaries leading to drop in blood pressure and circulatory shock (not enough blood reaching the organs) in the latter.
HT reported on September 28 that the surge in dengue cases was later than usual this year because of the delayed monsoon and long dry spells between heavy rain days. The aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the infection, breeds in clean, stagnant water. Consistent monsoon showers lead to water collection across the city, increasing the breeding grounds for the mosquito.
Usually, cases start increasing in July after the monsoon showers, and peak in October.
“When there is a lot of constant rainfall, there is no stagnation of water over days and hence breeding doesn’t happen. But when it rains intermittently, the collected water creates breeding sites for the aedes mosquito. And even though people in Delhi are aware of it, it is still difficult to prevent breeding completely. We have a team at the hospital which constantly checks for breeding, and yet we find larvae all the time; it could be in a polythene lying around with a little water or a collection of leaves,” said Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital.
The life cycle of the aedes aegypti mosquito is eight to 10 days. Experts suggest cleaning out all stagnant water sources every week. This is also the basis of the Delhi government’s “10 hafte, 10 baje, 10 minute” (10 weeks, 10 o’clock, 10 minutes) campaign to prevent mosquito breeding.