NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday flagged the issue of rising dengue cases in at least 11 states in India which are leading to flooding of hospitals with fever patients, many of whom are succumbing to the disease, and asked them to carry out urgent fever surveys to quickly identify patients and triage them.
The dengue outbreak this year, which mainly started from Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad district, is being caused by dengue serotype 2 or DEN-2 viruses with the potential to cause dengue haemorrhagic fever — which in many cases can turn fatal.
In a review meeting by the Union cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, the Centre categorically asked the states to undertake steps like early detection of cases, operationalisation of fever helplines and adequate stocking of testing kits, larvicides and medicines.
It also asked the states to deploy rapid response teams for prompt investigation and carry out necessary public health action like fever survey, contact tracing, vector control alerting blood banks for maintaining adequate stocks of blood and blood components, especially platelets.
States were also instructed to undertake publicity campaigns regarding helplines, methods of vector control, source reduction at homes and to monitor symptoms of dengue.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh, where hundreds of dengue cases have been reported from nearly 12 districts, killing dozens of people- mainly children, cases are now also being reported from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Haryana and Delhi too apart from few other states.
While Covid is largely less severe in children, dengue serotype 2 is proving particularly dangerous for children, officials pointed out.
As per data compiled by National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme under the Union health ministry, over 14,000 dengue cases and four deaths were reported across India till July this year.
But since mid-August, these cases have risen exponentially mainly fuelled by a surge in cases in western UP. Officials also said that 14,044 cases were already registered across India by July this year, which was more than seven times the 2002 figure.
Experts blame recent floods in several states, that provided mosquitoes conducive breeding grounds, for being partly responsible for deluge in cases while poor vector control measures in states may have been another major culprit.
In India, the dengue epidemic has become more frequent and intense since the 1990s and recent data shows the highest number of cases were recorded in 2017. There is fresh worry, going by the trend so far, that this year could see even a worse outbreak of the disease.