Via The Times of India: Doctors fear dengue epidemic in Kolkata this year. Excerpt:
Dengue could take on an epidemic proportion in Kolkata this year, fear experts. Going by the number of cases so far and the virus load in the environment, it could turn out to be even more threatening than malaria, cases of which have already been reported in the city.
Dengue has already claimed a life, though the number of people affected by the disease is still not clear. Doctors, however, believe the number is no less than a it could already be a few thousand. But civic authorities are yet to accept the fact.
The dengue warning comes weeks after a state government action plan on climate change mentioned Kolkata as a malaria 'endemic zone'. Sixty percent of the state's malaria cases are recorded in the city, which has seen a sharp 55% rise in the number of patients between 2008 and 2010, the action plan said.
But the bigger threat this year could be dengue which takes the form of turns into an epidemic every 2-3 years in Kolkata, pointed out experts. The conditions, they said, were favourable for a dengue outbreak.
"This year we have had scanty, erratic rainfall which has turned the micro-climate favourable for dengue. Collection of rainwater has encouraged domestic and peri-domestic breeding of the 'aedis gypta' mosquito which carries the virus. They survive best when the temperature remains between 16 and 30 degrees celsius with a relative humidity of 60% to 80%.
These conditions now prevail in the city. Dengue usually strikes every 2-3 years and since it has not been widespread in the last two years, this year could be bad," said Tomonash Bhattacharya, tropical medicine expert.
Every one out of ten patients suffering from fever is turning out to be a dengue patient, according to Asis Mitra, an medicine expert in medicine. "This is quite alarming. Since we are now in the middle of a viral epidemic, there is a possibility of dengue cases not getting diagnosed. It could lead to wrong treatment and death," said Mitra.
The other factor that could make dengue more potent this time is the virus load in the environment. It had been low last year.
"But going by the number of people affected by chikungunya, vector was present. Since the virus load rises every 2-3 years, it could lead to an epidemic unless we control mosquito breeding," said a Kolkata Municipal Corporation health official.