OFFICIAL figures compiled by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) show that only 20 cases of chikungunya have been reported in the national capital this year but the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where cases from other states are also examined, has recorded nearly twenty times that number in its lab alone.
AIIMS data shows that at least 391 samples tested positive for the vector-borne disease till August 20 — 92 per cent of the samples tested positive in July and August.
Data available with the National Vector Borne Disease Control (NVBDC), the central nodal agency, appear to support the trend noted by AIIMS — it shows at least 256 cases of chikungunya at various hospitals in Delhi, said sources.
The case of dengue is just the opposite. While the MCD data shows 311 cases till August 20, a senior AIIMS doctor said they had tested 1,400 samples of dengue till Saturday out of which only 12 were positive.
On Monday, Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain said that only “40-50” cases of chikungunya have been reported in the capital and that there was “nothing to worry” in comparison to the number of OPD cases recorded in Delhi hospitals.
“There are not many cases (of chikungunya). Around 40-50 cases might be there. The Delhi government alone does 1,000 OPDs every day. So, 40 to 50 cases is not a big number,” said Jain.
However, according to AIIMS’s Department of Microbiology, 712 samples were tested at its laboratory this year, of which 391 tested positive for chikungunya — 362 of the positive cases were tested between July 1 and August 20.
“However, very few samples have tested for positive for dengue — just 12. Chikungunya is not a notifiable disease so all information might not be reaching all targets,” Dr Lalit Dar, professor and in-charge, virology, Department of Microbiology, AIIMS, told The Indian Express.
Dr A C Dhariwal, director, NVBDC, told The Indian Express that the “positivity in chikungunya is higher than dengue” in the capital. “We can clearly state that this year the positivity in chikungunya is higher than dengue. Incubation period is very low in case of chikungunya, therefore the spread is more. We can also say that chikungunya is an emerging infection,” Dhariwal said.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes – it causes fever and severe joint pain, with symptoms such as nausea, fatigue and rashes.
Dhar of AIIMS, however, said there was no reason to panic since the mortality rate of chikungunya is very low. “The AIIMS data reflects the number of cases reported in the hospital, and is not restricted to Delhi. Also, the mortality rate in case of chikungunya is very low, when compared to dengue. Therefore, there should not be any panic with regard to the rise in number of cases,” he said.