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Bihar: Anti-dengue Drive Only on Paper, Highest Number of Cases Ever in 2023

Mohd. Imran Khan |
According to official figures from the state health department, 309 fresh dengue cases were reported on Friday (October 13), and total dengue cases rose to 10,105

Representational use only.Image Courtesy: Flickr

Patna: With more than 10,000 dengue cases officially reported in Bihar this year, the state has recorded the highest number of dengue cases ever. The cases will likely cross 12,000 by the end of October, an alarming situation before the festival season (Durga Puja). 

This number of dengue cases raised many eyebrows over repeated claims of the anti-dengue drive by government officials and concerned agencies. 

It appears that the anti-dengue drive is mostly on paper because much-hyped chemical fogging and spray to contain dengue failed if the surging cases are anything to go by.

The rising number of dengue cases created panic among people across the state. The fear of widespread dengue - a mosquito-borne viral infection, is such that people have been using all kinds of mosquito repellents, mosquito nets, age-old natural oil and other things to get rid of mosquitoes.

According to official figures from the state health department, 309 fresh dengue cases were reported on Friday (October 13), and total dengue cases rose to 10,105.

In October so far, nearly 4,000 dengue cases have been reported. More than 6,000 dengue cases were reported in September 2023.

In the last decade, the highest number of dengue cases was reported in 2022, when Bihar recorded 9,374 cases. It was a big jump compared to only 633 dengue cases in 2021 and 493 dengue cases in 2020.

Before last year, the highest number of dengue cases, 6,712, were reported in 2019. 

The number of deaths is at least 12, as per official figures. 

A health department official told NewsClick that Patna is worst affected by dengue.

On Friday, 153 new patients tested positive for dengue fever in Patna. 

"Patna has emerged as the hot spot of dengue with 4487 dengue cases reported here till date."

Taking note of this, the state government has sounded a dengue alert and issued an advisory. The health department directed all medical colleges and hospitals to reserve 25 beds for dengue patients, keep adequate medicines for their treatment and provide platelets to serious and critical patients.

Similarly, 10 beds in sub-divisional hospitals and five beds in all the district hospitals should be reserved for dengue patients. The department further asked for the use of mosquito nets during the treatment.

More than 300 dengue patients are undergoing treatment at government-run and private hospitals in the state.

In Patna, residents complained that the anti-dengue drive is underway on paper only. They said that the spraying of DDT powder, anti-larvae chemicals and the fogging of malathion mix to control the spread of dengue is done ritually.

A senior health officer said that all government-run health centres, including medical colleges and hospitals, district hospitals and PHCs, are on alert to properly treat dengue patients. 

"This time, the dengue cases rose like never before, and the government is trying to provide proper treatment facilities to dengue patients for fast recovery."

The Patna Municipal Corporation officials have repeatedly claimed they have sped up the drive against dengue in the city by cleanliness and spraying DDT powder, anti-larvae chemicals and the fogging of malathion mix. 

The drive is to control the spread of dengue in residential localities. However, residents of different localities questioned the drive's effect on the ground.

Contrary to the authorities' repeated claim that a drive against dengue is going on, the number of dengue cases is rising, and more and more people have been infected in recent days.

The fast spread of dengue ahead of Durga Puja and Diwali, the two most popular festivals of Bihar, is haunting everyone.

"Chemical fogging is missing, and spraying of DDT powder and anti-larvae chemicals are irregular and inadequate. Dozens of fogging vehicles are lying defunct," a roadside vendor in Kankarbagh colony said.

More than anyone, thousands of the poorest of the poor live either in slums or huts on the roadside and are more vulnerable to dengue due to filth, dumping of garbage and waterlogging nearby in Patna and other towns.

Last month, none other than Chief Minister Nitish Kumar directed the health department to be on alert and to take all measures to contain dengue soon after he visited Patna District Magistrate Chandrasekhar Singh, who was undergoing treatment at a private-run hospital after being infected by dengue. Singh was admitted to the hospital after his platelet count fell to 13,000.

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

Health officials said that water logging helps spread these vector-borne diseases by enabling mosquito breeding. Water logging is a common problem in Patna and the state's urban areas.

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