As a withdrawing monsoon lingers on in parts of the country, several regions in the north as well as the south are reporting a spike in dengue cases, triggering concerns that the outbreak this year could be bigger than the past few years.
According to data from the National Centre for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVDC), director-general of health services, Union health ministry, at least seven states—Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh—are reporting a spurt in dengue cases.
Overall, till August 31 this year, 30,627 dengue cases were recorded in the country, while 12 people succumbed to the disease. The disease is spread by an infected Aedes species of mosquito.
In 2021, there were 1,93,245 dengue cases across the country, with 346 deaths.
Fresh downpour in Delhi-NCR a concern
Meanwhile, a fresh downpour in Delhi-NCR has sparked worries that there could be a major spike in the disease in the coming days.
Till August 31, there had been 342 dengue cases in the national capital but if anecdotal evidence is to be believed, there has been a considerable rise in cases this month, so far, even though data will be updated nationally only by the end of September.
“Though it’s too early to say whether the dengue situation this year would be worse, compared to the last, given the continued rains in several parts, a big spurt is very likely,” said an official attached with NCVDC. “Dengue outbreaks are seasonal and the peak is usually during this month and the next peak,” he said.
The national programme, said the official, may carry out a situation analysis and outbreak investigation if major outbreaks of the disease are reported.
Officials say that whenever there is an outbreak, serotyping exercise is carried out to assess which type of serotypes are in circulation as dengue is caused by four types of viruses.
Also, the lack of vector-elimination exercise, which should usually be carried out during the lean season by municipal bodies, has been insufficient during the COVID-19 years, and the intensity and frequency of outbreaks has increased.
Dr Ankita Baidya, consultant, infectious diseases, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, in the capital, too, said that while people may be concentrating on COVID-19 appropriate behaviour at Dwarka, they may be giving less importance to dengue.
“The first thing we need to do is to keep our houses and surrounding areas clean and eliminate sources and reservoirs for mosquito breeding,” she said.
Rapid urbanisation, poor civic sense leading to spurt
Dr Anita Mathew, an infectious disease specialist with Fortis Hospital in Mulund, Mumbai, said breeding is more prominent during dry spells, post rain.
Rapid urbanisation and poor civic sense are the reasons for rampant breeding, she said.“Planned urbanisation, teaching, and dissemination of knowledge among the public about the spread of dengue and what can be done to stop its spread, especially before the onset of monsoon every year, might be useful in limiting the breeding sites,” Mathew added.