Pune study states dengue has grown 100-fold in the past two decases
The first case of dengue fever in Pune was detected in 1994 and then again in 1998. At the time, KEM hospital embarked on a Dengue research project, which has now completed 20 years.
According to Dr Rajesh Gadia, project director, while the intensity of the spread of dengue has increased 100 fold in the last 20 years, there is better understanding and management of the disease resulting in reduced hospital stay for those affected. “Dengue is shifting from urban to rural areas rapidly. Earlier, only three-four cities in India were affected, but now it’s almost everywhere; hence, the spread is manifold,” Dr Gadia says. More than 6,000 patients have been treated at KEM hospital under this project, over 20 years.
Known as the doctor who detected the first case of dengue in Pune in 1994, Dr Gadia says KEM has managed to maintain a mortality rate lower than the World health organisation’s (WHO) mortality rate for this infection. While WHO’s estimated mortality for severe dengue is around three to five per cent globally, in KEM the mortality has slipped to less than one per cent.
“We planned this project to understand what dengue is. Reason being, we detected the first case of dengue in 1994 from Kothrud. A 16-year-old female bled to death and since it was new to all of us we could not diagnose it then, that it was dengue. On studying we were informed it was the vector-borne infection. Later, every year we noticed dengue came back in the monsoon and post-monsoon seasons, between June and December,” said Dr Gadia who is an infectious disease expert.
Under the project, 50 doctors were selected from every pocket to issue an alert and send blood samples in case similar symptoms of dengue were spotted.
“Unfortunately in 1998 when we launched this project, we were hit with an outbreak and we saw over 238 admissions, all positive for dengue. The admissions were between August, September and October. We continued to study and observed that dengue which was only spotted in Kothrud was spreading. Cases from small villages too started coming in,” he said.
Dr Gadia described dengue as “a curse of urbanisation,” as it has spread primarily due to urbanisation.
The KEM project found that dengue is cyclical.
“It attacks in a big way after every three to four years. Pune was hit badly in 2005 with a dengue outbreak; we admitted more than 700 cases with us alone. We observed that over the years, strains of dengue have changed. Of the four strains, Dengue type 2 is the most dangerous and life threatening,” he says.