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Dengue worry for Delhi

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Gordon Farquhar | 16:23 UK time, Thursday, 9 September 2010

The difficulties facing the organisers of the Commonwealth Games have been well documented, but now another unwelcome problem has forced itself upon them.

The late and prolonged monsoon season has been beneficial to the breeding populations of mosquitoes, leading in turn to a more severe than usual outbreak of dengue fever in Delhi.

Dengue is endemic in India, as it is in more than 100 countries in the world, according to the World Health Organisation. In simple terms, it's caused by a virus, is transmitted by mosquitoes, rather than from human to human, and it's a problem equally in urban and rural areas in the tropics.

If you catch it, the consequences can sometimes, albeit rarely, be fatal. Symptoms range from a mild flu-like state of aching arms, limbs and head to, in the more extreme cases, a complication known as dengue haemorrhagic fever, a potentially lethal combination of fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, and bleeding. At present, there's no vaccination, so if contracted you treat the symptoms and hope for the best.

There are now in excess of 1,600 confirmed cases in Delhi, more than in recent years, and historically, the mortality rate has been around 1%.

A mosquito

Mosquitoes are now causing a problem for Delhi organisers

In context, other countries like the Philippines and Thailand have a considerably more serious problem than India, while there have been recent outbreaks in Argentina, Mexico and in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office draws attention to Delhi's situation in its advice to travellers, which, understandably, has led to concern among the team leaders taking their squads of competitors out to the Games.

For starters, the mosquito responsible for transferring the illness operates day and night, unlike the malarial mosquito which is really only a problem after dusk and before dawn.

Best advice is to cover up, liberally apply the insect repellent and be alert. That's a bit of a problem for athletes used to wearing minimalist lycra outfits and who sweat profusely, which tends to wash off the 'deet.'

The Indian authorities have been mobilising substantial forces to fumigate the athlete village and venues, drain areas of standing water and take other preventative measures, such as introducing a voraciously hungry breed of fish into ornamental waters to eat the mosquito larvae.

Although the risks can be reduced, they can't be eradicated, despite the exhortations of India's Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill, who has promised the athletes they can "come in full confidence" and that the "health and security situation will be under full control."

I hope he's briefed the mozzies.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    100 countries in what region exactly?

  • Comment number 2.

    "100 countries in the region" (?)

    What a stupid comment. Typical scaremongering by incompetent BBC journos.

    Stop forcing BBC down my throat and spare me the license fee. Please.

  • Comment number 3.

    Billion_plus,

    A little harsh. Granted it should have read "more than 100 countries in the world" but it is endemic in India and every country in the WHO's South East Asia Region.

    http://www.searo.who.int/EN/Section10/Section332_1098.htm

    Gordon is spot on with the sentiment. It is a very real problem for every day people and the point of the point of the blog is that it will potentially be a problem for visiting athletes. So it is not scaremongering at all and has highlighted a real issue.

    So keep your nasty comments to yourself.

  • Comment number 4.

    i think you have your mosquitos the wrong way round. dengue mosquitos tend to opperate at dawn and dusk. they are larger than normal mossies and you can recognise them by their strippy legs. Dengue is not fun though and i hope there are no serious cawses among the athletes. Im in Bangladesh at the moment and its dengue season here too. A friend currently has it - it isnt a barrel of laughs.

  • Comment number 5.

    The Commonwealth Games should really be called off, or the venue should be changed. You can give 5000 years to India to build decent stadiums and they'll find ways to make shoddy architectures, not meet their deadlines and make the initially planned budget explode completely (not to mention the quantity of money the politicians will pocket).

    Compare that to the way China got things done when they were hosting the Olympics only a few years ago, for sure their methods were not always clean but they know how to get things done. The sooner the Games are called off the better.

    If dengue and mosquitoes are used as an excuse to justify why they couldn't finish on time, it'll just show their incompetence.

  • Comment number 6.

    billion_plus, if you don't want the BBC 'forced down your throat' then maybe I can make a suggestion: Don't visit the website.

    I also wouldn't consider this scaremongering, it is pointing out a potential problem for the athletes out there, it is not saying 'OMG WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE'... If the athletes do get bitten then it will effect their performance at least.

    I really hope these games go well, there has been so much negative coverage that I worry the reputation of the games will be damaged, making the best athletes less likely to go in future.

  • Comment number 7.

    billion_plus you've got it the wrong way round. Not only did you go to the BBC website, you then clicked into this article, read it, then took the time to sign in to your account (or create one), then comment on the article. No one is forcing the BBC down your throat; you're forcing your ignorant self down theirs.

    I do think this kind of stuff is all a bit flash in the pan, though. There would always be a risk of disease. If it's increased by a bit then it won't make much difference. I imagine the athletes will be in accommodation that will minimise the risk of bites at dusk and dawn, and the proper precautions will be taken, so I think it's a non-issue.

    To _MikKar_, lots of people were very very worried before China (the smog!, amongst other things), and it went really well. How can you say at this stage India won't pull it off?

  • Comment number 8.

    "100 countries in what region exactly"

    Dengue is prevelant across the entire tropical belt and more recently has made its way north into the Southern states of the US. Within Europe cases have now been reported in both Italy and Germany. The Aedes mosquito, the viruses prefered vector, ranges as far north as Minnesota and is firmly established in the UK. These mosquito's are black with white stripes on their legs and are aggressive day biting mosquitos.

  • Comment number 9.

    @howlingbell : Simple, China can enforce things "brutally" if they absolutely have to get things done (with regards to the smog you are referring to, I remember they closed down all shops and industries for at least a month before the Olympics were due to start. Correct me if I'm wrong.). India cannot.

    And when I read comments about Sheila Dixit using God as an excuse for the delays, I just feel it's downright nonsensical.

  • Comment number 10.

    I caught Dengue fever in Brasil before my 19th birthday, and spent the rest of my trip unable to breathe through my nose, and with a heavy head and weak arms.

    Dengue doesnt last long, and its nothing to be scared of either. The common Flu has a higher mortality rate than dengue fever, and thats WITH a vaccine. The stronger you are, as with any virus, the easier it is to cope, and as these are athletes going to India that we are worrying about, I think its safe to say, that they are going to be fine.

  • Comment number 11.

    @Kevin : "Dengue is prevelant across the entire tropical belt and more recently has made its way north into the Southern states of the US. Within Europe cases have now been reported in both Italy and Germany. The Aedes mosquito, the viruses prefered vector, ranges as far north as Minnesota and is firmly established in the UK. These mosquito's are black with white stripes on their legs and are aggressive day biting mosquitos."

    Quite possibly but that is hardly a region is it?!? Perhaps a region could be considered to be the Indian sub-continent. Or South Asia. Even Asia. None of the above have 100 countries...

  • Comment number 12.

    And as you may note, the Journalist has altered the article accordingly to the point made...

  • Comment number 13.

    Just to balance the slightly nutty point of view in an earlier comment, I'd like to say I found the article informative and interesting.

  • Comment number 14.

    I HAVE to pay the license fee, no matter whether or not I visit the website. Its not like Sky where I have an option of not forcefully joining it!

    More people die of flu in the UK than dengue in India. Fact.

  • Comment number 15.

    billion_plus - "I HAVE to pay the license fee, no matter whether or not I visit the website. Its not like Sky where I have an option of not forcefully joining it!"

    Sure you HAVE to pay a licence fee, but you don't HAVE to visit the BBC website, you don't HAVE to sign up for a BBC account to post here and you don't HAVE to sit here and waste the rest of our time just because you HAVE a gripe about a media outlet.

    ...wait, you don't have to pay a licence fee at all, just say good-bye to television etc (not sure about licencing fees as we don't pay them here in aus)

    All you have done here is made a fool of yourself over an article about mosquitoes, you sir have won yourself a reccomendation to please move along.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think you'll find it's Sheila DIKSHIT, not DIXIT...rather appropraite in the circumstances.

  • Comment number 17.

    "not sure about licencing fees as we don't pay them here in aus"

    That sums it up. I knew it had to be some idiot from down under.

  • Comment number 18.

    billion_plus - "That sums it up. I knew it had to be some idiot from down under."

    Once again you have made yourself look like a fool, and decided to stoop to the level of trolling. Again I press my points;

    You don't HAVE to visit the BBC website andyou don't HAVE to sign up for a BBC account to post here. Why are you still here?

    For me, my local news outlets are pretty terrible (see: News Limited bias during the australian election) so I go to the BBC. Why? Because in my opinion (and I am sure of many other readers) the quality of news is at a much higher standard here than I can find back home.

    Again, why are you still here? You obviously don't like it here so why put yourself through so much pain...?

 

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