With the official dengue count creeping up to 100 this season and the high humidity levels coupled with staggered rainfall helping the spread of the disease, Metro spoke to some experts to answer your questions.
How vulnerable is Calcutta to dengue?
Calcutta is one of the most vulnerable cities in the world, with a dengue history dating back to 1824. It turned into an epidemic in 1963 with a lakh cases.
Why is it so vulnerable?
Calcutta ticks all the boxes when it comes to being conducive to sustaining and propagating dengue — presence of all four kinds of dengue viruses, weather condition favourable to the breeding of the type of mosquitoes spreading infection (Aedes aegypti), high population density, unplanned urban growth creating mosquito-breeding sites, inadequate vector control system and lack of community awareness. The last point is vital as the Aedes mostly breed domestically — wherever a small pool of water is found (even a depth of 1cm) — and bite locally.
How bad is it this year?
Looks worse than the last few years, going by unofficial estimates. On August 11, for example, a premier laboratory in north Calcutta received 72 samples for NS1 testing — a positive result indicates possible dengue infection — of which 42 were positive. The same day, the NS1 count at a south Calcutta lab was 45 positives out of 75.
What should the CMC do?
Make the mosquito-control drive wider and more focussed with the involvement of 100-day workers and local councillors. Generate awareness in a planned and innovative manner, instead of the knee-jerk response once dengue has spread.
Put in place early warning systems with regular feedback from private doctors and labs.
Make dengue a notifiable disease, which would make it mandatory for all labs to send updated reports to the health department. At present, only a fraction of tests reports reach the government.
How real is the fear of dengue turning fatal?
Dengue only becomes dangerous — and potentially fatal — if a person is afflicted by two different kinds of dengue within six months.