Infections due to the mosquito-borne dengue and chikungunya viruses are very common in India. A study by researchers at a US university has revealed that the number of people infected by these two mosquito-borne viruses is much higher than reported.
The study involved 1,000 people across 50 locations in Chennai. It was found that almost none of those exposed to dengue reported it. Study leader Isabel Rodriguez-Barraquer, research associate in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, said, "Our results show that the extent of the problem has been vastly underestimated. People are just not aware of the disease. We asked participants if they had ever been ill with dengue and only 1% of them said yes, when in fact 93% had been infected by it."
The researcher team estimated that on an average, 23% of those who have not yet been infected become infected by dengue every year, corresponding to roughly 228,000 infections per year in Chennai alone. RodrAguez-Barraquer said, "This rate of infection is extremely high, almost three times higher than in areas of Brazil and Thailand where transmission was thought to be high. Often, it is not the first but the second time someone is infected with dengue virus that can be deadly."
The researchers said, "These findings reinforce the need for officials to be on the lookout for these diseases and to find ways to control its spread in India."