There has been a significant decline in dengue and chikungunya cases and related deaths in Karnataka this year. While the health department attributes it to Covid-19 restrictions on movement, doctors also suspect underreporting.
According to data accessed by indianexpress.com, there have been 3,502 dengue cases reported in the state this year, down sharply from 18,183 cases last year. Also, the state has reported zero fatalities this year; there were 17 deaths reported last year.
Chikungunya incidence in the state has also seen a huge fall, with the number of cases down to 1,181 this year from around 3,000 last year.
Officials in the health department said the marked decline in cases of the two vector-borne diseases could be largely due to the fact that people haven’t had much exposure outdoors this year because of the lockdown.
“People didn’t step out much because of lockdown restrictions, thereby cutting down the risk of exposing themselves to potential mosquito breeding sites,” a senior officer from the health department said.
“Apart from this, the civic bodies carried out extensive sanitisation and fumigation drives across the state, which helped us contain vector breeding,” the official added.
However, doctors attributed the decline in cases largely to under-reporting.
Dr Pavan Patil from Gadag, who is also a member of Karnataka Medical Council (KMC), said, “While the lockdown and restrictions on movement have contributed significantly to the decrease in dengue and chikungunya cases in the state this year, there is also the fact of such cases being under-reported. Many of those who were infected with dengue or chikungunya did not come forward out of fear of contracting Covid-19. Only patients who developed severe symptoms got visited hospitals.”
One of the most common symptoms of dengue, which is spread by aedes aegypti mosquito, is high fever. “We are now starting to receive two to four dengue patients in our hospital daily. The cases will go up now as dengue starts to hold sway from November and stays through the winter months,” he added.
Dr S Manohar, director (Internal Medicine), Sakra World Hospital, said, “Patients with dengue experience chills, rashes and facial flushing, which may last 2-3 days. They also complain of high fever, exceeding 102 F. Dengue fever is typically a self-limited disease with a mortality rate of less than one per cent when detected early. Access to proper medical care also helps in reducing fatalities. When treated, severe dengue has a mortality rate of two per cent to five per cent, but if left untreated, the mortality rate is as high as 20 per cent.”