2:04 am - Wednesday July 17, 2019

4,000 Mumbaikars hit by dengue in October, admits BMC

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MUMBAI: 4.000 Mumbaikars suffered from dengue fever in October alone, admitted BMC officials after two months of repeated denials. Presenting a clearer picture of the dengue sweep across the city, civic officials told reporters on Wednesday that the city had indeed witnessed an increase in the number of suspected dengue cases this year.

Worrying for the BMC, the premier civic-run KEM Hospital in Parel seems to have become a hotspot for the dengue-spreading mosquitoes-five resident doctors who live on its premises have contracted the disease. While Dr Vruj Dhurke is critical in Hinduja Hospital in Mahim, four others are under treatment in KEM Hospital itself.

Hospital sources said seven other resident doctors had been discharged in the past one month after being treated for dengue. Some union members alleged that over 50 doctors and staff living in the sprawling KEM Hospital complex have suffered in the past two months. Hospital dean Dr Shubhangi Parkar maintained that several corrective measures such as clearing debris had been initiated in the campus.

At Wednesday’s press conference, additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh said dengue’s incidence has increased this year mainly due to the delayed winter (the Aedes Aegypti mosquito thrive and breed in warm, humid weather) as well as lack of awareness among people about the habitat of these dengue-spreading mosquitoes.

“Around 51% of the breeding spots of mosquitoes were found in high-rises, indicating that people’s habits encourage their breeding,” he said. The BMC has maintained that fresh water accumulation in feng shui plants, potted plants and broken tyres is ideal for dengue mosquitoes to breed.

BMC insecticide officer R Naringrekar said the three worst spots in the city as far as breeding sites were concerned are E ward (Byculla), H-East ward (Santa Cruz) and L ward (Kurla). He complained that some residents of the city’s tony pockets like Juhu refuse entry to civic officials for checking of breeding sites.

The BMC executive body is, in fact, planning to rope in actor Aamir Khan to spread awareness on how citizens with their thoughtlessness contribute to the spread of dengue. Shiv Sena leader in the BMC, Trushna Vishwasrao, said she would propose his name to the municipal commissioner as ‘brand ambassador’ for the awareness campaign. “I feel he is concerned about social issues and people listen to him. Also, a video clip of a few seconds or a half-minute appeal from the mayor and municipal commissioner can play in all theatres in the city to make people more aware of dengue,” she added.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said he has already asked for information on dengue from across the state to ensure effective action and prevent the disease from spreading further.

Meanwhile, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray called a meeting of party leaders in the BMC and civic health officials to review the dengue menace in the city. The meeting held at the Mayor’s Bungalow, Shivaji Park, on Wednesday evening, was attended by Sena MP Rahul Shewale, mayor Snehal Ambekar, leader of the house in the BMC Trushna Vishwasrao, standing committee chairman Yashodhar Phanse and additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh and other health department officials. Thackeray asked Ambekar and Vishwasrao to visit all major hospitals in the city to review dengue cases, and spread awareness on keeping cleanliness in all hospitals and BMC offices. Thackeray also asked them to involve residents in awareness programmes.

BMC officials said the health department was also studying the changing behaviour pattern of the dengue-spreading Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. Studies done in other parts of the country have shown that the dengue mosquito is becoming less sensitive to light and is more likely to be found outdoor than before. They will also look at the strains that are affecting Mumbai; last year’s survey had shown that dengue strain 2 and 3 were more prevalent. “Looking at the spread of the disease, it looks like there is more than one strain at work here,” said BMC’s chief epidemiology officer Dr Mangala Gomare.

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