Sunday, October 17News That Matters

Dengue outbreak

Large tracts of the country — from areas surrounding Mohali to Agra and from Gurugram to Pune — are witnessing an alarming outbreak of dengue this monsoon season. Busy preparing for the ominous third wave of Covid, the administration, healthcare and management systems have been hard put to deal with the rising burden of dengue cases. The disease, marked by severe flu-like symptoms, can be fatal. In recognition of its global spread and burden, the policy to report dengue to the health ministry and WHO was adopted a few years ago and it is partly responsible for the spike witnessed over the years.

With a prolonged season of monsoon this year, the consequent waterlogging has led to a rise in mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue. Though it is fairly well known that stagnant water is a breeding ground for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the outbreak response must be strengthened towards making the communities aware and involving them in disease prevention. Gurugram’s figures are telling in this respect. The city, which has this year seen the highest number of dengue cases in five years, over 11,000 notices have been issued to households for being host to mosquito larvae. In the tricity, Mohali has become the hotspot of dengue. It is on alert as people testing positive have been soaring in the past one and a half months, accounting for 95 per cent of this year’s figures. While 344 dengue cases surfaced in September, the first eight days of October saw 277 more patients falling prey to this vector-borne disease. Covid-hit Maharashtra is pressured as it also deals with over 8,000 dengue and 1,700 chikungunya cases that were reported across the state till September, with Pune seeing the number of cases double in a month.

With the vaccine for dengue still in the initial trial stage, fogging of the affected and disease-prone areas and screening measures, along with the citizens’ dedication to keeping the surroundings clean and dry, are effective strategies to avert an epidemic. A proper audit of the numbers of infected patients and mortality statistics are necessary for formulating better control and treatment protocols.

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