Chikungunya cases have started spreading in the city with 68 probable and confirmed cases being reported to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in the month of October.
This is the first time this year that the virus has cropped up in Mumbai. According to civic health department, 10 patients were admitted to various BMC hospitals in October and treated for the viral infection that spreads through Aedes aegypti mosquito, also known to carry the dengue virus.
In private hospitals, at least 11 patients were diagnosed with confirmed chikungunya while 47 were suspected to have the infection.
“Traditionally, Mumbai does not have the chikungunya virus. The cases here are mild. We have not seen any serious case so far,” said Dr Minnie Khetarpal, Deputy Executive Health Officer at BMC.
The confirmed cases were limited to Elphinstone Road and Dadar in G North ward (three cases), Govandi in M East (three patients) and F North ward’s Matunga (three cases). In Goregaon West (P South), one patient was diagnosed.
“The cases are scattered. We tried to establish if there was any travelling history of patients to Pune or Delhi where cases are significant. It is possible a patient cured of chikungunya may still be carrying the virus in Mumbai,” Khetarpal added.
The BMC has inspected 5,883 houses to detect mosquito breeding for chikungunya and found three such spots. Additionally, 9,957 containers were checked by the insecticide department to destroy mosquito breeding.
The disease is known to cause high fever, rashes, headache and severe joint pain. Doctors usually prescribe fluids and rest to treat the infection for which there is currently no vaccine.
According to Dr Shahid Barmare, a general physician, a huge load of viral cases mimicking symptoms of chikungunya are also getting diagnosed. “Patients are coming with joint pain and rashes, which are also clear symptoms of chikungunya virus. But the tests are coming negative. We refer to such cases as post-viral arthritis,” he said.
Chikungunya patients take 15 to 30 days to recover, which is also the case with a lot of viral infections testing negative for the virus. In October, BMC recorded a significant 14,156 fever cases due to various viral infections.
While an IgM Chikungunya test is prescribed by various private practitioners due to its cost ranging between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000, the government recognises the Rs 4,500 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test as final test for the virus.