Global warming has paved the way for a new disease, dengue, strongly mark its presence in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh in the recent past.
It is already a matter of concern that the state is witness to rising cases of dengue, especially in warmer districts and the areas bordering Punjab (which is dengue endemic) over last three years since this disease knocked at the doors of HP first.
As per official figures, a total of 1,886 dengue patients were reported in HP till 31 August, out of which Bilaspur district had the maximum of 865 patients, followed by Solan and Mandi, which are emerging as problem areas.
Chamba, Hamirpur and Kullu districts have no positive cases of dengue till date.
Officials said two dengue deaths have although been notified in Himachal, the reasons stretched beyond dengue infection alone, going by the health history of the patients.
Last year, the dengue cases were reported in large numbers from Solan and Bilaspur, this year Mandi has also shown surge.
As per World Health Organisation (WHO), dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease. The dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of species Aedes aegypti and to a lesser extent, Aedes albopictus. This mosquito also transmits chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika infection.
Dengue is widespread throughout the tropics, with local variations in risk influenced by rainfall temperature and unplanned rapid urbanisation.
The mosquito causing dengue is found in clean still water and it bites during the day. It requires a temperature above 20 degree Celsius to survive and flourish.
The health officials said the state is now house to the mosquitoes due to general rise in temperature as a part of larger phenomenon of global warming, but the virus came from outside, probably due to routine mixing of people in the areas bordering Punjab and the tourist influx in Himachal.
Officials in the health department said the teams did keep record of the dengue cases last year in different areas, but the epidemiological investigation was done this year, looking at the growing incidence.
This year, the first dengue case (a girl) was reported from a locality in Bilaspur on 28 May. The girl, who was studying in Karnatka, had come home in Bilaspur and had reported headache and fever. She was later diagnosed with dengue.
“We are taking adequate precautions to check the spread of dengue. The health department is carrying out a regular Information Education and Awareness campaign in the state to educate people,” said Director, Health and Family Welfare, Dr Baldev Thakur.
He said steps are being taken to ensure that one ‘dry day’ is observed for water supply in a week in affected areas to break the cycle of stranded water.
Moved by the spiralling cases, the state health department has not only taken extra caution for testing and supportive treatment for dengue, but has also ensured fogging and sprays in problem areas.
The medical experts said global warming has changed the pattern of disease distribution in the state, and the health department requires to change its strategy for disease surveillance and control.