Dengue outbreak in Delhi, 8 states: All you need to know
- A significant number of cases was initially recorded in Uttar Pradesh
- Dengue deaths are registered for only those patients who were tested and proven to be infected with the virus before they died
- Malaria, chikungunya, and viral fever are also common during this time of year
In roughly nine states and union territories (UTs), the Union health ministry has appointed central teams of experts to assist them in handling the dengue outbreak. Officials from the National Centre for Disease Control and the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program are among the members of the team. These groups will provide technical assistance, including public health measures, to state health officials. The decision was made in view of the dengue fever outbreak that has spread across the country.
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How did it become an outbreak?
A significant number of cases was initially recorded in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, in September of this year. According to India Today, the total number of dengue cases has reached 6,488, with 70% of cases reported in the months of August and September. Firozabad has been hit the hardest, with more than 60 people killed so far. According to local accounts, the death toll could be as high as 100.
The government denies the figures, claiming that there have been no dengue deaths in the district, which experts say is due to a lack of disease surveillance in Uttar Pradesh.
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Officially, dengue deaths are registered for only those patients who were tested and proven to be infected with the virus before they died. Even then, districts hold a death audit meeting to determine whether the death was caused by dengue fever.
Since September, cases have been reported in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh, as well as Haryana, Punjab, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, and Jammu & Kashmir.
"A total of 15 states/UTs are reporting their maximum cases in the current year; these states contribute 86% of the country’s total dengue cases till October 31," the Centre said in a recent press release.
How is Delhi dealing with the outbreak?
Dengue fever has been detected in Delhi in over 1,530 instances so far this year, with about 1,200 cases reported in October alone, the highest number in the last four years.
Malaria, chikungunya, and viral fever are also common during this time of year. According to data compiled by the Delhi municipal council, 57 cases of malaria and 32 cases of chikungunya have been recorded in the capital so far.
How does it spread, and what are its symptoms?
Dengue fever is spread by mosquitoes of genus Aedes (Ae.). Aedes is a day time feeder with a maximum flight distance of 400 metres.
Fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and a rash that looks like measles are all common symptoms. Dengue strains are divided into four categories, with kinds II and IV being the most severe and requiring hospitalisation. The aedes mosquito, according to scientists, breeds in clean stagnant water.
Which tests are done to detect dengue?
IgM and IgG antibodies test and NS1 antigen test, both are done. Also known as the Elisa test, they are performed using ELISA kits.
Dengue antibodies discovered in an initial blood sample by IgM and IgG tests, indicate that the person was likely infected with the virus during the last several weeks.
This test is usually done after 3-7 days of fever, but the NS1 antigen test is a dengue test that can be done on the first day of illness, before antibodies emerge. Both of these tests are card tests with immediate results.
How to control the spread?
The main strategy for preventing dengue fever is vector control, which tries to lower mosquito populations. In Western Uttar Pradesh, approximately 25,000 mosquitofish have been released into ponds and lakes. In just eight hours, each mosquitofish can consume up to 150 larvae. It's crucial that this is accompanied by a more aggressive environmental management strategy to eliminate any potential breeding locations, such as the removal of any water-collecting containers.
Is there a vaccine for dengue?
No. There's no vaccine for dengue in India. In the United States, however, a dengue vaccination is available for children aged 9 to 16 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).