Just a small bite lands you on a hospital bed from where the coming home is not certain. For over one month Delhi and NCRs have been wrestling with cases caused by this fatal sting. Hospitals and private nursing homes are running full house with patients rushing in droves. In Delhi alone cases of malaria and dengue have been on the rise for over past one month. The menace has gripped and affecting badly the national capital and the regions around.
Dengue has frequently been posing a threat to every single soul living in Delhi and its regions and more categorically the South Delhi. As it sounds too ironical, fever has shattered a myth about South Delhi, an upscale area, perceived to be the epitome of hygiene and cleanliness which has reported the maximum number of dengue cases in the capital so far and the count is still on.
Prime locations in South Delhi, including Chanakyapuri, Netaji Nagar, Laxmi Bai Nagar, Kidwai Nagar, Greater Kailash, near All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung hospitals, are said to be breeding grounds of the deadly aedes aegypti mosquito. Despite efforts by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to control the spread of the disease, the deadly mosquitoes have found new dens in the region. The number of dengue patients has soared with at least five cases as a routine affair are making way to Delhi hospitals every day.
“One of the biggest reasons for South Delhi being worst-hit by the dengue virus is the comfort-seeking lifestyle of the residents in the area. Almost all the families here have air conditioners, coolers, flower pots, overhead tanks for water storage and pots for feeding birds. Moreover, a number of flats in these areas remain locked for long durations as their occupants are either travelling abroad or have multiple properties. The high society people often don’t allow the civic officials to enter their houses for inspection. Their guards and dogs keep them away from the premises. Because of these reasons, dengue fever spreads unchecked in South Delhi”, said Dr VK Monga, former chairman, Health Committee, MCD, and a public health expert.
The fact remains is that the Delhi government hurls the ball to the civic bodies for the spread of dengue in South Delhi. As per the recent survey private hospitals claim the actual number of dengue patients coming to them for treatment which is much higher than the figure stated by the Delhi government. Areas like Najafgarh and Gurgaon are the worst hit. According to the chief medical officer, Gurgaon, more than 200 dengue cases have been reported from the region so far. People going for a morning walk in parks also run the risk of getting stung by the dengue mosquito.
“The mosquitoes causing dengue usually bite at dawn and dusk, it’s a female mosquito and day biter as it may bite at any time during the day if it find favourable circumstances such as covered, damp areas with minimal sunshine. The safest defence from the mosquito is to sleep under bed nets and wear full clothes while venturing out. The dengue mosquito generally bites the lower part of the body and hence, we strongly recommend wearing socks and keeping the lower limbs covered all through the day,” said Dr Sheikh Nazeer, Metro Hospital, Preet Vihar.
“Continuous efforts such as fogging, door-to-door checking and involving the resident welfare associations are the responsibilities of the NDMC and the MCD.”
AK Walia, Health Minister, Delhi
“Challans are being slapped to offices and even households where breeding of larva is found. Till now we issued more than 100 challans from East Delhi areas.”
Annaporna Mishra, Mayor, East Delhi
“We are getting many patients who come to us for the dengue check up but we are admitting only those patients who require platelet transfusion or have additional health complication.”
Dr Vinay Aggarwal, Chairman, Pushpanjali hospital
“Continuous efforts such as fogging, door-to-door checking and involving the resident welfare associations are the responsibilities of the NDMC and the MCD. As the city has been divided into three parts, the onus lies on the MCD. No proper surveillance and control measures are being adopted by the authorities concerned,” said Delhi Health Minister AK Walia.
In the wake of rapidly increasing dengue cases in the city, Delhi Health Minister Dr AK Walia has highlighted the need for higher penalty against those not maintaining hygiene, especially in the vicinity of construction sites.
At present, the fine for violating civic norms is Rs 500—the sum has remained unchanged since 1975. The health department will soon begin the process of increasing it to Rs 1,000.
“Punitive measures must be strengthened. The fine of Rs 500 for creating mosquitogenic conditions at construction sites is too meagre to be a deterrent. This amount was fixed in 1975 and needs to be raised. We have ordered intensive fogging at construction sites, unauthorised colonies and JJ clusters,” Dr Walia said.
The minister has directed officials to prepare legislative measures focussing on these spots. All the municipal agencies have been asked to double the number of fogging machines from two per ward to four in every ward. At present, the municipal agencies have 700 fogging machines.
What the Act says?
With a view to controling vector-borne diseases, Delhi Municipal Corporation (Malaria and other vector-borne diseases) By laws 1975 are in force throughout the year in areas under the jurisdiction of MCD. Under these by-laws, no person shall keep or maintain within his premises any collection of standing/flowing water in which mosquitoes breed or are likely to breed. The by-laws also make creation of mosquitogenic conditions punishable with fine. Dengue fever/DHF/DSS have been declared dangerous diseases under section 2(9)(b) of DMC Act. Penalty for mosquito breeding is Rs 2,000 and it could increase to Rs 5,000 for repeated offences.
HOSPITALS RUN PACKED
AIIMS and Safdarjung hospitals continue to receive a huge number of dengue patients leading to shortage of beds and many hospitals turn away the patients from giving admission under the pretext of a common fever amounting to viral.
“We have been pushed to a situation where we are adjusting two patients on one single bed. Dengue cases are going up day by day, along with other seasonal infections. We are receiving over 50 to 100 cases of viral fever every day. Many of the patients come in a critical state and need to be admitted immediately. We can’t deny treatment to anyone. There is already a shortage of beds and dengue and other viral fevers are adding to the problem,” said Dr BD Athani, Medical Superintendant, Safdarjung Hospital.
Delhi government and MCD are trying to spread awareness for prevention using various methods.
“Generally kids and elderly are coming to give dengue test. They are more vulnerable and dengue fever usually starts within a week of the infection. Symptoms include high fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, pain in the joints and muscles, nausea and vomiting, and rashes on the skin. I think people should take care of themselves in this season,” informed KK Chaudhary, Health Officer, East Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Confirming the same, Dr Adarsh Kumar, Medical Superintendent of Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital, East Delhi, said, “This time the cases of dengue have gone up as compared to the last year. Around 20 patients every day come to the hospital for dengue tests whereas we have registered more than 40 dengue cases in our hospital so far.”
Dr Vinay Aggarwal, Chairman of the Pushpanjali Hospital in Anand Vihar, said: “We are getting 10-15 suspected cases of dengue daily, of which only 25 are confirmed positive. We are getting many patients who come to us for the dengue check up but we are admitting only those patients who require platelet transfusion or have additional health complication.”
Municipal authorities, on the other hand, claim that the cases of dengue were being monitored in various parts of the city. Anapoorna Mishra, East Delhi Mayor, said, “Challans are being slapped to offices and even households where breeding of larva is found. Till now we issued more than 100 challans from East Delhi areas.”
By Shvveta Arora