Dengue threat looms large in Bihar as state witnesses 371 fresh cases in 24 hours

Last month, Bihar officially reported a distressing tally of a dozen deaths attributed to dengue

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Wednesday 11 October 2023
Representative photo: iStock_

Bihar is rapidly inching towards an unprecedented peak in dengue cases, with the state reporting over 9,000 cases so far this year. By the end of October, the numbers are likely to cross 10,000.

The daily surge in dengue cases has triggered widespread panic, particularly in urban areas that are worst hit by vector-borne diseases.

Around 371 fresh dengue cases were reported in the state in the last 24 hours, pushing the total count to 9,235 through October 10, 2023, according to data from the state health department.

During the last ten days (from October 1), about 2,500 dengue cases have been reported.

In the last decade, the state saw the highest number of cases —9,374 — in 2022, up from 633 in 2021 and 493 in 2020.

Before the unprecedented spike in 2022, the highest number of dengue cases, totalling 6,712, was reported in 2019.

In 2018, the state documented over 2,000 cases, with numbers dropping to below 2,000 in 2017, 2016, and 2015. This escalating trend is posing a significant public health challenge in Bihar.

Bihar officially reported a distressing tally of a dozen deaths attributed to dengue in September and October this year. However, there are unconfirmed reports suggesting that the actual death toll might surpass two dozen.

Sanjay Singh, a senior officer from the state health department, said all government-run health centres, including medical colleges, district hospitals and primary health centres, are on alert to provide proper treatment to dengue patients.

Undoubtedly, the number of dengue cases is increasing, but government-run health centres are providing timely treatment to help patients recover fast. Moreover, casualty cases are few, Singh said.

According to health officials, Patna, followed by Bhagalpur, are hotspots for dengue this year. While Patna reported 3,268 cases in September and October, more than 1,000 dengue cases have been reported from Bhagalpur.

Currently, 284 dengue patients are undergoing treatment in government-run medical colleges and hospitals in the state. In Bhagalpur alone, 103 dengue patients are under treatment for dengue — the highest number of dengue patients admitted in any district.

Dr Ranjan Kumar of Patna Medical College Hospital said many dengue-infected patients visit the outpatient department daily. “We treat them following thorough diagnostic tests to identify dengue. There is a special ward for dengue patients and in cases of severe or critical conditions, such patients are shifted to intensive care unit”.

Officials from the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) claimed that they have intensified their campaign against dengue in the city through a rigorous cleanliness drive, as well as the widespread application of DDT powder, chemical fogging and anti-larvae chemicals.

These efforts are aimed at curbing the spread of dengue in residential areas. However, residents in various localities have raised questions about the actual impact of this drive on the ground.

Despite the authorities’ repeated claims of an ongoing campaign to contain dengue, the number of cases continues to surge. The rapid spread of dengue ahead of Durga Puja and Diwali, two of Bihar’s most celebrated festivals, is causing widespread concern and apprehension in the region.

Chemical fogging by vehicles has proven to be inadequate, and the sporadic use of DDT powder and anti-larvae chemicals seems to be in name only, said a shopkeeper who sells tea near the PMC office.

Moreover, several fogging vehicles are non-operational, and over 20 per cent of hand-operated devices designated for fogging operations are dysfunctional, the shopkeeper added.

Among the most vulnerable, thousands of the poorest, residing in slums and makeshift huts along the roadside, are at the highest risk of dengue due to the unsanitary conditions, accumulation of garbage, and waterlogging in proximity to their dwellings in Patna and other towns.

Moreover, water logging is a common problem in Patna and the state’s urban areas. Health officials said stagnant water spreads these vector-borne diseases by enabling mosquito breeding.

Last month, following his visit to Patna, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar directed the health department to be on high alert and to swiftly implement all necessary measures to contain dengue.

Kumar directed officials to ensure sufficient stock of platelets and regular anti-dengue measures and maintain cleanliness in all areas of the affected districts.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.