Varanasi: Ajay Kumar has been awaiting good news for a week now, about three children in his family – his six-year-old daughter and two nephews.
All of them are suffering from dengue. His daughter and one of the nephews, 13-year-old Prince Kumar, are being treated at the Autonomous State Medical College, Firozabad. Both have shown little improvement in their condition.
Hundreds of people have developed a viral fever and dengue in western Uttar Pradesh in the last few weeks. The number of cases has risen dramatically, especially in Firozabad, the worst-affected district.
As on September 14, 68 people had tested positive for dengue and 60 others had succumbed to a viral fever in Firozabad, said district chief medical officer Dr Dinesh Kumar Premi.
“In past years, the number of cases here hardly crossed 20. This is the first time Firozabad has witnessed an outbreak of this scale,” said Sandeep Tiwari, president of Firozabad district’s Congress committee. “Apart from children, a large number of factory workers and daily wagers are suffering from dengue. The case count in Firozabad is more than double of what is officially being reported.”
Underestimating the scale of a dengue outbreak isn’t new for Uttar Pradesh or India – especially since many cases simply go unreported.
According to one estimate, the number of dengue cases the Union health ministry reported in 2006-2012 differed from hospital records by a factor of 282! When dengue goes unrecognised, both people and healthcare workers become complacent.