Concern as Delhi adds 8 dengue infections — rare for Jan 1st week

The data over the last five years shows that the number of dengue cases in the first week of January has been zero in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Municipal workers fumigating an area against dengue in New Delhi. (Arvind Yadav/HT Archive)
Municipal workers fumigating an area against dengue in New Delhi. (Arvind Yadav/HT Archive)
Published on Jan 11, 2022 01:11 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The weekly vector borne disease report, issued jointly by the three municipal corporations, every Monday, has declared eight new dengue cases during the first week of the new year— a marked departure from the previous five years when no case was detected during the period.

The report takes into account cases notified till January 8, senior public health officials from the civic bodies said. They said dengue has now become endemic in the city and the number of cases are not falling to zero even during peak winter. The data over the last five years shows that the number of dengue cases in the first week of January has been zero in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

“Dengue is now endemic to the city and cases are witnessed all through the year. The mosquitoes have also adapted to the cold environment and larvae breeding is still happening. We used to have a zero dengue period during peak winter, which is no longer the case,” an official said, requesting anonymity.

Of the eight reported dengue cases, three were from areas under the south corporation, and one each from north and east corporations while the origin of three cases could not be traced. Delhi’s hospitals have also reported three more cases which were found to be infections acquired from other states.

The action taken report for the week also shows that the municipal domestic breeding checkers have detected 83 properties with larvae breeding in the first week with 93 legal notices being issued and prosecutions being launched in five cases.

Of the 83 sites, 78 were in areas falling under South Delhi Municipal Corporation while five were reported from areas under the north corporation. With the city witnessing record rainfall this January — the month is already the wettest Delhi has seen in 22 years, according to the India Meteorological Department — and waterlogging being reported in many parts of the city over the week, the number of vector-borne disease cases may further rise in the coming weeks, entomologists said.

Delhi has so far recorded 63.6mm of rainfall, the highest for the month of January since 1995, when Delhi received 69.8mm of rainfall in the entire month.

“Warmer temperatures and humid environment are ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes. A lot depends on the temperature over the next week,” a second official added, also on condition of anonymity.

Multiple studies in the recent years show that aedes aegypti eggs can survive in low and sub-zero temperatures for a short period of time. Once the temperature drops to about 20°C, the adult mosquitoes become less active in the open environments and stop functioning once the mercury drops below 10°C.

Delhi has recorded 9,613 dengue cases and 23 fatalities in 2021, making it the second worst annual outbreak on record. The dengue outbreak in 2015 had led to 60 deaths and 15,867 infections. Dismayed by the poor public health response to the outbreak, the Delhi high court had ordered the constitution of a task force to take steps to prevent the city from “being infested by mosquitoes”.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022