Representative image of fumigation underway in Delhi. Photo: PTI.
New Delhi: Dengue cases in Delhi stood at 5,277 as of November 13 – the highest recorded in the national capital since 2015, according to a weekly report by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation. Nine people have died of the disease this year.
Of the total, 2,569 cases were reported in the last week (ending on Saturday), which is more than double the total number of cases recorded in October (1,196) and greater than the year-end totals of 2020 (1,072) and 2019 (2,036).
The high number of cases in Delhi so far this year is worrying.
The spike in numbers in November, however, may not only represent new cases. The Hindustan Times quoted a senior official of the city’s health department saying around 30% of those who tested positive for dengue this month had actually tested positive earlier, and that the reporting rate has increased after the Delhi government made vector-borne diseases notifiable.
When a disease is made notifiable, people who get the corresponding infections or their healthcare workers are require by law to report to government authorities. In theory, this allows authorities to monitor the progress of the disease closely and helps them develop proactive policies to help curtail a potential outbreak.
Through a notification dated October 14, and effectuated from October 31, the Delhi government made all vector-borne diseases, such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya, notifiable under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.
However, a doctor from a tertiary care hospital quoted in the same newspaper report said that the number of cases verified through an actual test could be as much as four-times the current figure, alleging widespread under-reporting.
In light of the rapidly increasing number, the Delhi high court, while hearing a plea seeking steps to control the outbreak on November 9, had sought the Delhi government’s and the North Delhi Municipal corporation’s responses. The court provided them a week’s time to get back, with the next hearing set for November 18.
Outside the national capital, Tripura reported 255 cases of dengue until November 10, more than 10-times last year’s total of 24. State surveillance officer Deep Kumar Debbarma reported said that the increase in cases this year was the result of better screening and migration of individuals into Tripura from other parts of the country.
Coimbatore, in Tamil Nadu, is also enforcing precautionary measures in light of the infection spreading. Twenty-eight have been reported in November, according to Times of India. City health officer Satish Kumar said the frequent rains this year are the cause of the problem. He added that, apart from tests being stepped up, medical camps are also being set up around the city, where doctors are distributing tablets and ORS sachets.
In mid-September this year, there was a dengue outbreak in western Uttar Pradesh, centered on Firozabad – against the backdrop of a wider viral fever outbreak.
Dengue is caused by four related viruses, each called a serotype. Infections of the second serotype, called DEN-2, can cause patients to develop a haemorrhagic fever that could rapidly lead to death. This is why it is important to catch dengue infections early.
With inputs from PTI