The number of chikungunya cases reported in Delhi shot up by more than 20 times in a week, according to the latest report. While 20 cases were reported until August 20, the figure rose to 423 cases as on August 27 in the report collated for the city by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).
The city’s civic bodies have attributed the sharp rise to prevailing atmospheric conditions, and fear the number of cases may increase because more rain is predicted this week.
The number of dengue cases too have seen a sharp spike, with over 176 new cases reported in the capital between August 20 and 27. The disease is carried by the same vector — the Aedes mosquito — with similar symptoms as chikungunya in the initial phase. The difference is there are severe joint pains in case of dengue.
The highest number of dengue cases (67) were reported from areas under the jurisdiction of the SDMC.
For chikungunya, however, the area of the spread could not be specified because the maximum number of cases (382) were in two categories: ‘untraced’ and ‘address not available’.
Sharing the reason for this, Dr D K Seth, Director, Hospital Administration (North corporation), told The Indian Express Monday that when patients report to a hospital with high fever rash and other symptoms, they are often told to get an RT-PCR test which is specific to chikungunya.
“However, the test is expensive, costing approximately Rs 3,500, so many patients do not get it done. Chikungunya is not lethal so the patient gets better in four or five days and does not return to the hospital either,” he said. Municipal hospitals do not conduct this test, which is conducted only by AIIMS in Delhi, according to Dr Seth.
In the case of dengue, with high fever lasting over eight days, an ELISA test is conducted to confirm the disease and that requires patients to return for treatment.
The civic bodies have been running awareness campaigns to urge people to check for mosquito breeding conditions on their residential premises and adjoining areas.
This year, domestic breeding checkers of the three civic bodies found nearly 100,000 households in Delhi positive for breeding and issued 88,000 legal notices for “mosquitogenic conditions”.
Meanwhile, the corporations have not started fogging drives because “the disease has not assumed epidemic proportions yet,” while admitting that it is not a particularly effective method of countering the spread of the vector-borne diseases.