A senior government official of Delhi said that the killer disease meningococcal meningitis has so far claimed 34 lives in just three months leaving another 486 affected by it.
'So far 34 people have died of symptoms similar to those of meningitis, of which 18 cases have been confirmed,' said N.K. Yadav, deputy municipal health officer of Delhi.
'One person succumbed to the disease Monday and the patient was a confirmed case,' Yadav told IANS without giving details of deaths.
In the last three months, 486 people have reported symptoms of meningitis, which is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a number of infectious agents including viruses and bacteria.
Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria and spreads through droplet infection and close contact with patients.
'The disease has not taken the form of an epidemic and people should not panic. Though regular cases are being reported by several hospitals in the capital, the situation is absolutely under control,' Yadav said.
However, he said the administration was not complacent about the situation. 'All necessary steps are being taken to curb the disease from taking the shape of an epidemic.'
Meningitis cases were reported in March from all the leading hospitals in the capital including All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ram Manohar Lohia, Loknayak Jaiprakash, Safdarjung and Bara Hindu Rao.
From the areas under the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the central zone has reported 25 confirmed cases followed by Sadar Paharganj with 24 cases, Civil Lines with 20 cases and Karol Bagh with 15 cases.
Officials said the families of the patients were being advised to take precautionary measures and antibiotics were being distributed to check the spread of the disease.
The last major outbreak of meningitis in India was in 1985 when 6,000 cases and 800 deaths were reported across the country. In 2005, over 50 people had succumbed to the killer brain fever.
Officials said steps were being taken to make the public aware about the disease through hoardings, posters and leaflets.