Dengue cases have nearly tripled in the state this year compared to last year, a surge partly attributed to testing figures returning to normal levels. A rise has also been noted in malaria; two districts—Gadchiroli and Mumbai—are mainly contributing to the cases. The diversion of manpower to the prevention of Covid and vaccination is also believed to be hampering vector control measures.
The country has been battling dengue fever since early this year, at a time when state resources have been spent on curbing the COVID-19 outbreak. The similarities between dengue fever and COVID-19 symptoms have also complicated efforts to mitigate the annual spike in cases.
Doctors in Maharashtra are reporting fevers due to common cold, flu, typhoid, sporadic cases of malaria, and the occasional case of scrub typhus, aside from dealing with cases of mosquito-borne dengue which are on the rise.
State entomologist Dr Mahendra Jagtap said favourable weather conditions, intermittent rainfall, humidity levels, all advantageous for the spread of dengue, is contributing to the increase. “Testing has increased for both dengue and malaria this year. Last year, there was a drop in testing for almost all ailments,” he said. The slide examinations for malaria, for instance, had dropped to 1.24crore last year compared to 1.72crore in 2019, a 28% decline.
Dr Anshuman Manasvi said, “It is very important that people consult their doctors if the fever doesn’t reduce in two or three days. Self-medication, taking antibiotics and pain medicines must be avoided,” People must continue to take preventive measures. These days, we see dengue cases well into October and November, so people must be careful and check for mosquito breeding in their houses and neighbourhoods,” he said.
Dr Mishra of Borivali said, “If you catch a fever and it doesn’t get better after three days or you notice some kind of bleeding – red spots on the skin, bleeding gums or nose bleed – don’t hesitate to get checked out at the nearest health facility. People should not be afraid to visit health facilities, which were safer now than most other places because they usually had screening systems to separate non-COVID-19 and COVID-19 patients.”