32,000 cases, 100 dengue deaths in India this year
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Rajendra Kumar, Rajkot's district collector, has had a first-hand experience of the disease his office is tracking. "On the very first day of fever, I had my blood tested to rule out dengue," he says. "I was extremely weak and had to be hospitalised in the first week of September." The district has seen 280 cases of dengue so far this season.
In Pune, National Institute of Virology deputy director Dr M S Chadda has had dengue infection earlier. In Ahmedabad, senior IPS officer Rahul Sharma's wife Sumita died in August this year, one of three victims out of 900-odd cases. And in Mumbai, the death of filmmaker Yash Chopra has created greater panic than ever that the disease can afflict anyone. Greater Mumbai has had 500 cases this year, out of over 2,600 statewide including 31 who have died.
National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme officials have counted more than 32,000 cases of dengue and 100 deaths in the country this year. Kerala has had the highest number of cases at nearly 7,000. The fatality rate is not as bad as it was last year, when 240 of 50,000 cases died across the country. Dr A C Dhariwal, director of NVBDCP, points out there are guidelines on combating the disease and there is no cause for panic.
Dengue does, however, present fresh challenges. It is no longer a cyclical problem, though that depends on where the outbreak occurs. The virus transmits itself round the year in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, while it has remained a seasonal phenomenon in the northern, central and eastern states, NVBDCP officials say. In the latter areas, transmission tends to pick up in the post-monsoon months from September to December. Dengue has become endemic with even places like Samba in Jammu having reported an outbreak; last year it was Palighat in Arunachal Pradesh, says Dr Kalpana Baruah, NVBDCP joint director.
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