Dengue fever has shattered a myth about South Delhi. The upscale area, perceived to be the epitome of hygiene and cleanliness, has reported the maximum number of dengue cases in the Capital so far.
The total number of dengue cases in the city, according to government data, reached 652 on Sunday. Of them, 246 cases - almost 40 per cent - were reported from areas under South Delhi Municipal Corporation alone.
Prime locations in South Delhi, including Chanakyapuri, Netaji Nagar, Laxmi Bai Nagar, Kidwai Nagar, Greater Kailash and spots 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 35 new cases being reported on Sunday itself.
"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, flowerpots, 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," said Dr V.K. Monga, former chairman, health committee, MCD, and a public health expert.
Elitism to blame
"Also, the high society people often don't allow the civic officials to enter their houses for inspection. Their guards and dogs keep visitors away from the premises. Because of these reasons, dengue fever spreads unchecked in South Delhi," he added. The Delhi government, however, blames the civic bodies for the spread of dengue in South Delhi.
"Continuous efforts such as fogging, door-to-door checking and involving the resident welfare associations are 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 state health minister A.K. Walia.
Private hospitals claim the actual number of dengue patients coming to them for treatment is much higher than the figure stated by the Delhi government.
"We are getting a lot of positive cases now and we expect it to continue till October end as the weather is conducive for mosquito breeding. There is, as yet, no vaccine to protect people from dengue fever and the only way to prevent the virus transmission is to take precautions against mosquitoes," said Dr Navneet Kaur, senior consultant, internal medicine, Nova Specialty Surgery in Greater Kailash.
Other areas witnessing a spurt in dengue cases are Najafgarh and Gurgaon. According to the chief medical officer, Gurgaon, 201 dengue cases were reported from the region till Saturday. The dengue mosquito can bite human beings within a range of 100 metres from its den.