Beware…be prepared! Dengue and chikungunya have arrived early this year


New Delhi: The monsoon is months away but mosquitoes are already unleashing mayhem in the city . Officials said there has been a boom in mosquito population that is reflected in very high number of chikungunya, dengue and malaria for this time of the year.

As on April 8, hospitals in Delhi had reported 79 chikungunya, 24 dengue and 13 malaria cases this year -by far the highest recorded in the corresponding period since 2012.

Chikungunya cases are particularly high given that a total of four cases were recorded during the same period in the last five years put together.

Although health officials said the number of cases is likely to drop with the rise in heat, they warned that civic authorities need to act early to prevent the kind of outbreak Delhi saw in the latter half of last year.

“Last week’s rain has certainly caused a proliferation of mosquitoes, and diseases have spread. We are hopeful that the numbers will come down as summer peaks,” said Dr B K Hazarika, health officer of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), which compiles data for mosquitoborne diseases.

He said in many cases it was found that patients had acquired the infection from other states.

Last year, Delhi recorded 7,760 chikungunya and 4,431 dengue cases. Dr D K Seth, director (hospital administra tion) of the north corporation said he had called a meeting of hospital authorities to chart out a plan to deal with any possible outbreak of mosquitoborne diseases.

Seth cautioned against a dengue outbreak later in the year. “Chikungunya cases are likely to be lesser this year because of herd immunity. Those affected by the disease last year may not get it again. But we have to be prepared to deal with possibility of dengue outbreak,” he said.

Last year, the corporations claimed no one died due to the two mosquitoborne diseases even as several hospitals reported many deaths from the viral infection spread by Aedes aegypti mosquito.

The government chose to pin the blame upon other concurrent medical complications in the patients, also called co-morbidities, for the deaths. The mosquito menace also reignited political slugfest and one-up manship between the AAPled Delhi government and the municipal corporations led by BJP. The former claimed corporations had failed in their job while the latter rued its lack of funds. The CAG has rapped the BJP-ruled civic bodies in the capital for failing to mount an effective response to dengue despite having adequate funds, crores of which, the auditor said, were wasted.

CAG’s performance au dit report tabled in the Delhi Assembly last month exposed many gaps in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases, by both the corporations and state government.It stated while the municipal bodies spent Rs 109.43 crore, between 2013-15, on domestic breeding-checkers without any supervision or assessment. The watchdog also pulled up the Delhi government for spending Rs 10.04 crore during 2013-15 on awareness campaigns for prevention of dengue after its outbreak, thereby ‘defeating’ its purpose.