Dengue cases in Delhi spike amid rain, floods, MCD strike
The number of new weekly cases continues to almost double over the last three weeks with the city reporting 56 and 24 cases in the preceding two weeks.
Delhi has reported 105 new dengue cases in the last one week taking the tally of the cases reported till August 5 this year to 348 cases, the weekly mosquito borne disease report released by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) shows. This is the highest number of cases reported till August 5 in at least the last 10 years.
Meanwhile, the number of new weekly cases continues to almost double over the last three weeks with the city reporting 56 and 24 cases in the preceding two weeks respectively.
The decadal data from MCD shows that in comparison to the 348 dengue cases reported between January 1 and August 5 this year, the city had reported 174 cases in 2022, 55 cases in 2021, 35 in 2020, 47 in 2019 and 64 cases in 2018. The corresponding period in 2017 saw 185 cases, while 119 cases were recorded in 2016, 53 in 2015, and just 22 cases were reported in 2014.
Moreover, the city witnessed its worst dengue outbreak in 2015 when 15,867 cases and 60 deaths were reported. In 2021, Delhi had recorded 9,613 dengue cases and 23 fatalities due to dengue.
To be sure, data for the corresponding period for years before 2014 was not available with HT on Monday.
An MCD spokesperson said the spike in cases can be largely attributed to heavy waterlogging observed in July as Delhi witnessed record rainfall which led to water stagnation and rise in mosquito breeding sites.
In July, Delhi received 384.6mm rainfall, the third highest in the last 20 years.The monthly normal rainfall mark for July is 209.7mm, meaning there was an excess of 83% over the long-period average (LPA). Moreover, the city reported 1,42,206 mosquito breeding sites this year which is more than double the count of 69,549 breeding sites detected in 2022 and 63,280 sites in 2021. This is despite a five-day strike undertaken by the civic body’s domestic breeding checkers (DBCs) — field workers who keep a check on mosquito breeding sites.
Of the 348 cases recorded so far this year, 191 emerged in MCD areas, 32 in New Delhi region and 19 in Delhi Cantonment areas, and six cases under Railways jurisdiction. Within the MCD jurisdiction areas, the west, south and Najafgarh zones reported the maximum cases.
Moreover, 100 cases remain untraced as on Monday.
An MCD official said that that the problem of “untraced cases” acts as a hurdle in the fight against mosquito-borne disease despite a Delhi government notification on October 14, 2021, declaring dengue a “notifiable disease” in the city under the Epidemic Diseases Act. The notification made it mandatory for healthcare institutions to report dengue to the health department to improve its surveillance in the city.
“While the notification has improved the reporting of cases, incomplete and wrong data regarding patients is defeating the purpose behind the move. In cases where the addresses are untraceable and anti-mosquito drive cannot be undertaken, we have again written to hospitals to provide complete details,” the official said.
Officials said that a more dangerous strain of dengue is in circulation this year. On July 28, state health minister Saurabh Bharadwaj stated that genome sequencing of 20 dengue-positive samples in Delhi showed that 19 of these had the severe Type 2 strain. While the Type 1 strain causes fever, the second strain can lead to fatal haemorrhagic fever with shock and chills.
Experts suggest that prevention is the only alternative in tackling severe cases of dengue, like one caused by the Type 2 strain.
“Besides leading to low platelets, it can also lead to shock in the patient and capillary leak syndrome. Usually, the dengue cases see spike in September-October but due to waterlogging and flooding in the city, a rise in water accumulation sites could have led to increase in the mosquitogenic conditions,” said Dr Sumit Ray, the head of the department of critical care medicine and medical director at Holy Family Hospital.
While stating that there is no emergency like situation at this stage, the Delhi government last week had reserved 5% of beds in government hospitals for dengue patients. The Union health ministry has asked the hospitals to create separate dengue wards.
As part of its efforts to check the spread dengue, the Delhi government has increased fines for unchecked mosquito breeding — ₹1,000 for households and ₹5,000 for commercial establishments. However, an MCD official stated that the corporation has not received the notification of the hiked fines so far.