Vidarbha has been gripped by dengue fever this year along with rising cases of scrub typhus, a zoonotic disease. So far 751 and 149 people have been infected respectively. While there has been one confirmed death due to dengue so far, scrub typhus has caused 23 deaths, including five from Madhya Pradesh.
While dengue has seen a sudden jump from 46 positive cases till August last year to 247 to August this year, scrub typhus didn’t have any noticeable record till last year. The latter is caused by transmission from insects called mite to mice and from them to humans, according to Deputy Director of Health Services Nagpur division Sanjay Jaiswal.
“A team from National Centre from Disease Control was here for ten days to collect samples and study the scrub typhus problem. It will come out with its report soon,” Jaiswal said.
Asked why the disease has suddenly surfaced this year, Milind Ganvir, Assistant Director (Malaria) said, “We used to have sporadic cases earlier but there was no facility to check the samples here. Now, a facility had been created at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and that’s why perhaps we have been able to know the exact spread.”
Jaiswal said, “the disease had general symptoms like fever, headache, body ache, stomachache and isn’t differentiable from other similar diseases. It takes about a week to determine after the test. So, it is necessary to start antibiotic treatment and not wait for the test result. The medicines are abundantly available,” he said.
He added: “The general perception that it would be prevalent in rural areas due to the mite insects presence in grasses, too, had been proved wrong since Nagpur city is worst affected by it.”
The figures for the disease show that of 149 patients, Nagpur district as a whole had 80 patients, of which 33 are within Nagpur corporation limits. Patients have also been reported from Gadchiroli 6, Wardha 9, Chandrapur 2, Bhandara 6, Gondia 3, Amravati 13, Yavatmal 1, Akola 3 and Buldana 1. Twenty-four from Madhya Pradesh and one from Andhra Pradesh, too, had come for treatment here.
Of the 18 scrub typhus deaths, Nagpur has registered 14 deaths, of which nine are within corporation limit. One each had been reported from Gadchiroli, Akola, Amravati and Bhandara.
In addition, five deaths were of patients from Madhya Pradesh.
In case of dengue, Nagpur has 213 suspected cases, of which 133 are from Nagpur municipal limits. Only one death had been confirmed to be due to dengue, according to figures made available by Ganvir.
“In dengue, people’s cooperation is very vital. The dengue mosquito lay eggs on fresh water. So, people need to clean up accumulated water in their houses. It doesn’t go by fumigation,” Jaiswal said.
Interestingly, Leader of Ruling Party (BJP) Sandip Joshi had said the NMC would impose fine if dengue eggs were found in homes by NMC inspectors. But one inspection at his home found eggs, leaving him red-faced. His daughter, too, was treated for suspected dengue.
Dengue had also affected some resident doctors in GMCH over the past two months. The doctors had alleged that complaints about stagnant water used for construction activity had caused the disease. The administration had taken measures to clean it up as late as on Tuesday.
Chandrapur with 173 suspected cases is the other major district affected by dengue, according to government figures.