The threat of more people falling prey to the mosquito-borne dengue virus is real as rains continue in spells and stagnant rainwater provides ideal breeding conditions for the Aedes Aegyti mosquito which spreads the virus. This mosquito breeds only in fresh water.
"As many as 50 patients have been landing up at Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital in central Delhi with symptoms of dengue each day. The number of patients has gone up over the past two weeks. At the end of September and during the first week of October, the number may rise further. To meet the situation the hospital has ordered more intravenous fluids and saline drips," Karan Vats, a doctor working in RML Hospital, told IANS.
According to civic agencies, 240 cases of dengue have been reported across Delhi till date, which is high compared to the 13 cases reported in 2012 and 84 in 2011.
Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital in east Delhi attends to dozens of suspected dengue patients each day. At present, 30 patients who have tested positive for dengue are under treatment at this hospital.
"We have 30 dengue patients admitted in the hospital. Every day, over 100 patients throng the hospital with dengue symptoms," a nodal officer dealing with dengue in GTB told IANS.
The scene is not much different at private hospitals.
Moolchand Hospital in south Delhi recorded 41 confirmed cases in August alone; in the first week of September, 31 confirmed dengue cases were found at this hospital.
"The number of patients has spiralled over the past two weeks. We are giving special attention to three patients who have been detected with Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS)," said Srikant Sharma, senior consultant, Moolchand Hospital.
There are three types of dengue fever: the typical uncomplicated dengue fever; dengue hemorrhagic fever where the patient bleeds from the nose, gums or under the skin and which generally affects elderly people and dengue shock syndrome (DSS) in which fluid leaks outside blood vessels, causing massive bleeding and shock -- this form of the disease leads to multi-organ failure and is fatal.
"For a patient with DSS, monitoring of blood pressure becomes crucial," Sharma said.
Fortis Healthcare said 20 suspected dengue cases were reported to them till August but a sudden surge in the incidence of the disease occurred in the past week with 15 cases being reported. Two of these were DSS cases.
"The number of patients has gone up in the last week. We have a dedicated unit of medical staff to deal with dengue patients and any emergency cases, " Vivek Nangia, director, department of pulmonology, Fortis Healthcare, told IANS.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine for dengue. Doctors say those who suspect that they have contracted dengue should use pain relievers with acetaminophen and avoid those containing aspirin. They should also rest, drink plenty of fluids and consult a physician.
With the number of dengue cases increasing, NationWide - The Family Doctors, a pioneering chain of primary care clinics, has started a dengue helpline for Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
"Through the dengue helpline 9555222570 we will clarify doubts about this infection. We believe increased awareness can lead to faster detection and contain the spread of the virus as symptoms often go unnoticed in the initial stages," said Shantanu Rahman, medical director, NationWide - The Family Doctors.
Doctors say dengue fever usually starts within a week of the infection. Symptoms include high fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, pain in the joints and muscles, nausea and vomiting and rashes on the skin.
"Rain brings with it high chances of dengue outbreak. Post-monsoon, the weather is conducive for breeding of the Aedes mosquito which causes dengue," a senior official of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) told IANS.
The best way to prevent dengue is to check stagnation of water.
As per the experts, the water collected in old tyres, open water containers, stagnant water in pot holes, flower pots, excess water dripping from air conditioners are possible sites for mosquito breeding. Open gutters can also serve as breeding grounds for the Aedes Aegypti.
According to the NVBDCP, 22,092 people were affected by dengue till August. Seventy four deaths have been caused by the disease across the country so far this year.