New Delhi, Aug 22: There has been a sudden increase in chikanguniya cases in the national capital, with 188 blood samples testing positive for this mosquito-borne disease in the last one and a half months at the AIIMS itself.
Health experts have attributed the rise to a possible "evolution" in the virus that carries this disease and change in weather factors like humidity.
"What we have found out is that suddenly number of chikanguniya cases have increased in Delhi as also in several other parts of the country. "The disease is caused by the same aedes aegypti mosquito which causes dengue but the difference is that dengue virus has four strains while chikanguniya has only one," National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) Director, A C Dhariwal, told reporters here.
At a press conference held at the AIIMS on the sidelines of a workshop on dengue, Dhariwal and other health experts acknowledged the sudden spike in chikanguniya cases, but appealed to people not to panic. "Number of cases of chikanguniya testing positive in AIIMS lab itself shows the situation, and even in case dengue, I would say, people should not panic," the NVBDCP Director said.
"From July 1 to August 10, we tested 325 blood samples in our labs, out of which 188 were found positive for chikanguniya," an AIIMS doctor said. Dhariwal says the rise in the cases this year could be because of chikanguniya virus showing some evolution compared to last year and weather conditions proving conducive to its growth.
"In this case, what we call the 'incubation period', the time it takes for the virus to develop the disease syndromes after it enters a patient following a mosquito bite, may have been reduced, resulting in spike in cases. In dengue case, on the other hand, the incubation period is longer compared to chikanguniya," he said.
Though hospital have reported large number of chikanguniya cases, the municipal corporation of Delhi has only reported "20 cases" till August 20. North Corporation has reported 2 case, South Corporation 13 and East Corporation one while New Delhi Municipal Council 4, according to a municipal report released today by the SDMC.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said, "Our mohalla clinics are equipped to tackle chikanguniya and dengue cases. People panic and get themselves admitted in hospitals after getting high fever, suspecting dengue. "But, last year, we found many of these patients did not have dengue. So, we appeal to people to take precautions, keep themselves hydrated and not panic at all."
Typical chikungunya syndromes include high-grade fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain and headache, joint swelling, or rash. But it is not as dangerous as dengue in which there is a risk of bleeding. "In chikanguniya, the the joint pain is more than in dengue cases," AIIMS doctor Ashutosh Biswas said.