There has been a spurt of dengue cases in the national capital. More than 300 cases of the dreaded virus have been reported in the month of September alone.
The tally of people in Delhi who have contracted the viral disease this year has spiked to 466. Only 55 dengue cases were reported in the comparative period last year.
Both government and private hospitals have been inundated with dengue related illnesses in recent days.
Among other hospitals, Lok Nayak, Deen Dayal and Guru Teg Bahadur, the nodal government hospitals in Central, West and East Delhi are already facing a shortage of beds for such patients. Some of these hospitals have opened dedicated fever wards to cater to the huge inflow of patients.
NS-1 antigen test
Doctors have also reported a marked departure in diagnosis of dengue cases this year as compared to the cases diagnosed last year.
This year there have been numerous cases of patients not testing positive for the NS-1 antigen test even when they have other classic symptoms of the dengue virus; high fever, body ache, and falling platelet counts.
The NS-1 antigen, mandated by government guidelines, is considered to be the most reliable laboratory test for dengue, a potentially lethal virus.
“In cases which are seemingly repeat dengue cases, where patients who have a past history of dengue, the NS-1 antigen tests are coming negative,” a doctor from Lal Bahabur Shastri hospitalsaid.
“We are admitting them and giving them symptomatic treatment like we do for dengue. But we cannot officially declare them as confirmed dengue cases,” he added.
Experts aver that the trend of negative NS-1 antigen tests is a pointer to the fact that another virus, similar to the dengue virus, is circulating in the air.
Preventive measures taken
Meanwhile the government authorities have upped the ante to thwart the spread of the virus.
More than 4 lakh houses have been sprayed with protective fogging materials. Larvae eating fishes have been distributed in 99 spots across the capital.
The dengue surveillance program has been strengthened. Strict action is taken against people who allow mosquitoes to breed near their residential or commercial properties under the said program.
“We are on our toes and are doing everything we can to ensure there is no outbreak,” said Dr PK Sharma, director, medical officer (health), New Delhi Municipal Council was quoted as saying in the Hindustan Times.