Sting operation: Capital deals with mosquito menace as dengue cases surge

- May 11, 2024
| By : Kushan Niyogi |

MCD has issued 15,000 legal notices to mosquito breeding sites across Delhi as the month of April witnessed the most number of cases for the period in last five years

ACTION: Fumigation by municipal corporation officials is one of the most effective ways to get rid of mosquitoes. (Getty)

A total of 35 dengue cases were reported in the month of April, nearly double the number reported in the same time last year, according to the latest data of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), a copy of which is with Patriot.

The number of cases recorded in April 2023, stood at 18.

Pertinently, the number of reported cases in the last month has also been the highest for the same period in the last five years.

The total number of recorded cases this year, as of now, is 146.

Also read: Water woes hit national capital

The MCD has issued a legal notice to 15,000 breeding sites to curb the mosquito menace, although mosquito breeding has been reported in nearly 38,500 households in the national capital this year until April, according to the civic body, which is grappling with a rising number of cases of vector-borne diseases.

The municipal authority reports that between January 1 and May 3, a total of 1,08,27,640 field inspections were carried out. The highest percentage of breeding sites, accounting for 27%, was found in containers, followed by decorative flower pots at 19.8%, overhead tanks at 14.3%, construction sites at 3.8%, coolers at 3.7%, and hoardings at 2.7%.

WATER BORNE: Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The presence of it can lead to dengue and chikungunya

Among the identified breeding areas, Shahdara South recorded the highest with 10,526 cases, followed by the West Zone with 6,475 cases. Other zones such as Central recorded 3,547 cases, City Sadar Paharganj had 1,148, Civil Lines 2,164, Karol Bagh 2,093, Keshavpuram 1,942, Najafgarh 2,414, Narela Zone 879, Rohini 1,552, Shahdara North 2,811, and South 2,803 cases.

Khushi Mehrotra, a resident of East Vinod Nagar in East Delhi, says officials from the MCD had come to visit her rented residence.

“They asked me if we had any waterlogged space, or any container, which had stagnant water. They also asked me if any of our drains were clogged and told us to clear them. They left right after but they did not check anything as such,” she said.

Atul Goyal, the President of URJA Residents Welfare Association (RWA), said the MCD has been going around with its survey in the area with the objective of curbing breeding sites in residential areas.

“They have come here to inspect and they have done it very thoroughly. Not many breeding sites have been found but there has been a rise in the number of mosquitoes. They have not yet started with the use of repellents but I am hoping that they will start before the peak hits,” he said.

Up to May 3, anti-mosquito spray operations covered 19,81,458 locations, including 2,94,646 in Central, 43,136 in City Sadar Paharganj, 88,523 in Civil Lines, 99,613 in Karol Bagh, 2,00,905 in Najafgarh, 2,10,160 in Narela, 32,313 in Rohini, 1,21,874 in Shahdara North, 1,08,489 in Shahdara South, 4,06,796 in South Zone, and 2,82,878 in the West Zone.

Fogging was conducted at 7,967 sites.

THE VIRUS: The larvae of Genus Aedes, which is responsible for dengue fever. (Getty)

A senior MCD official, privy to the development, said that there is no need to panic as the situation is under control and all measures are being taken by the civic body to curb the cases of vector-borne diseases.

“The spike in dengue cases has been registered as a sudden increase owing to strict guidelines from the MCD to report all cases weekly without fail. In the previous years, hospitals were not following these guidelines, which led to a lapse in the reporting of cases,” he said.

Giving details of the action being taken by the civic body to curb the disease, he said that the MCD is conducting on-ground inspections and spraying insecticides to control mosquito breeding in the Capital.

The vector-borne disease of dengue is mainly spread through the Aedes variant of mosquitoes, which is also the primary vector for chikungunya and yellow fever, among other diseases.

However, with rising temperature and the perennial effect of climate change, the mosquito menace has become a sword hanging on humanity’s cumulative heads. As per environmentalist Bhavreen Kandhari, it is through climate change that mosquitoes have started thriving.

“Mosquitoes are thriving amid climate change. In India, rising temperature extend their breeding season, while extreme weather events like monsoons provide optimal conditions for proliferation. No longer confined to specific regions, mosquitoes are venturing into new territories, putting previously unaffected communities at risk,” she said.

She further added that regions such as Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, which have been “traditionally” considered safe from mosquito-borne diseases, have now begun witnessing multiple outbreaks of dengue and chikungunya.

Other environmentalists claim that it is specifically the uneven distribution of rainfall that has caused a surge in the number of mosquitoes present in a certain month.

“Usually, there are rarely any mosquitoes seen during months, which are considered summers, since high temperature in the 40s kills these insects. However, with sporadic, non-seasonal rainfalls, stagnant water and puddles become much more in number leading to them playing a pivotal role in the formation of breeding grounds. Unfortunately, it seems that none of the governments have enough bandwidth to control this menace,” said environmental activist Chander Veer Singh.

Dr Jugal Kishor, Director Professor of Community Medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, said that mosquito breeding needs to be controlled in order to curb dengue cases in the national capital.

“Mosquitoes act as carriers of the disease, transmitting it through their bites. Once a person is infected, there is risk of further transmission to others through the Aedes mosquito,” he said.

“The most important thing is that there is no cure available for the disease, no anti-drug, and no vaccine has been developed till now to help cure the disease. There is no treatment for dengue,” he said.

Dr Kishor underlined that lack of a cure, anti-drug, or vaccine for dengue makes prevention crucial.

“Controlling mosquito breeding at the individual level is paramount. Mosquitoes breed in clean water and thrive in temperature below 30 degrees Celsius, primarily biting during day time. Therefore, not storing clean water in household items like coolers and other things will be helpful in controlling the breeding of mosquitoes,” he added.

Dr Rishi Raj Sinha, National Secretary, Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA), said that dengue viruses, transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, pose a significant health threat.

“These mosquitoes have a preference for human hosts, residing both indoors and outdoors in close proximity to communities. Once infected, mosquitoes can transmit the virus to others through subsequent bites,” said Dr Sinha.

“Additionally, although rare, dengue can also spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, or needle stick injuries. Diagnosis typically requires a blood test, with a notable decrease in platelet count being a common indicator. Symptoms include severe bone-breaking pain, accompanied by chills, rigours, and muscle aches. It’s imperative not to underestimate dengue’s severity, as it can escalate rapidly,” Dr Sinha further added.