12/13/2012 11:30:00 AM

Dengue: Sharp rise in India this year

A considerable increase of dengue cases in India in 2012 has been recently reported by the country officials. In November India has already recorded over 35,000 cases and 216 fatalities1 for the current year, which means almost a 60 % rise in comparison with the last year. Officially 18,860 cases and 169 deaths were registered in 2011 in the country. According to the local authorities, the most concerned areas are Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Kerala, and West Bengal.
“The global dengue problem is far worse than most people know, and it keeps getting worse”, said Dr. Raman Velayudhan, the WHO lead dengue coordinator, in an interview with The International Herald Tribune.2 According to the expert twenty years ago only 1 of every 50 tourists coming back from the countries at risk was infected by dengue; today it is 1 in 6.
Another expert, Dr. Manish Kakkar, a specialist at the Public Health Foundation of India points to a “massive under-reporting of cases” as an important reason of this increased dengue spread in the country.2 However, is it the main reason?

In this regards, the WHO highlights the problem of global warming. In the last 100 years the world has warmed by approximately 0.75°C3 . “Overcrowding and pollution resulting from inadequate infrastructure can trigger these conditions”, says the WHO report on climate change and Public Health. Globally, urbanization, also characteristic of India, is associated with a range of health problems, including vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria. As well as malaria vectors (Anopheles mosquitoes) populations of Aedes mosquitoes, transmitting dengue, are highly sensitive to climate change. According to the WHO, recent studies suggest that climate change could expose an additional 2 billion people to dengue transmission risk by the 2080.3

1 The Times of India, News Delhi, 24/11/2012
2 The International Herald Tribune, 07/11/2012
3 The WHO Fact sheet N°266 “Climate change and health”, October 2012