Uptick in dengue cases in Delhi, doctors urge caution
Doctors have reported an uptick in the number of dengue cases in the city over the week, with the current count higher than the same time last year, when Delhi was also grappling with its second surge of Covid-19. Cases are likely to increase over the rest of the month, due to the prevailing humid weather, said experts.
Cases of the viral infection, transmitted by the day-biting aedes aegyptii mosquito, start increasing in August after the monsoon and dips in October, as the temperature begins to drop, making it inconducive for vector breeding.
The city has reported 124 cases of dengue till Saturday, till which data from the civic bodies is available. Last year, during the same period, the city recorded 96 cases.
No deaths due to the infection have been reported this year.
To be sure, 1,259 cases of the infection were reported in the same period in 2015 when Delhi saw a severe dengue outbreak which affected nearly 16,000 people and killed 60.
“Delhi received patchy rains in July and so we weren’t seeing too many dengue cases till now. But with the rains that the city received now, the mosquito breeding has started. The weather is likely to be hot and humid through September, giving the mosquito ideal time to spread the infection,” said Dr Atul Gogia, senior consultant of internal medicine at Sir Ganga Ram hospital.
He said, “We have seen a distinct trend of viral infections this year — first we saw the spike in the Covid-19 cases, then came the flu, and now we are seeing an increase in dengue cases.”
Doctors also said the spike in cases this year could be because people didn’t get tested for the disease last year, due to the Covid-19 spike at the time.
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant of internal medicine at Indraprastha Apollo hospital said, “We are definitely seeing more cases of dengue than last year. It could be because patients with fevers other than Covid-19 were not getting tested [last year]. We are likely to see more cases in the coming weeks. People must take ensure there is no breeding in their homes and wear full-sleeved clothes and apply mosquito repellent when stepping out.”
When should you suspect dengue?
With Covid-19 cases at a record low, doctors said that most of the fever cases are likely to be flu infections. However, if a patient has high-grade fever without symptoms such as blocked nose, runny nose, or cough, it is likely to be dengue.
“If high-grade fever lasts beyond two to three days, you should get tested for dengue if there are no respiratory symptoms and there is bodyache or the more telling pain behind the eye. The NS1 antigen tests can pick up dengue from the first day of the symptoms too,” said Dr Rommel Tickoo, director of internal medicine at Max hospital-Saket.
Doctors advise against taking any medicine other than paracetamol. “If you have fever, keep yourself well hydrated. Take only paracetamol for the fever,” said Dr Gogia.
Dr Chatterjee added, “People should not take antibiotics unnecessarily because they do not help in viral infections. Also medicines such as aspirin and voveran (pain medications) should not be taken without consulting a doctor because it might actually harm in dengue.”
Medicines such as aspirin can accelerate internal bleeding, a symptom in some severe dengue infections.