Why is India a Dengue Epicentre?

We bring to you the reasons why India is a Dengue epicentre: Conducive Weather, Urbanisation, Inadequate water supply and Poor sanitation.

In 2016 approx. 6 million people (0.5% of the Indian population) were diagnosed in India with Dengue or Chikungunya.

Dengue spreads by the bite of the Aedes mosquito. Aedes mosquito is a small, dark mosquito with white bands on its legs. Moreover, the Aedes mosquitoes use natural locations or habitats to lay their eggs. Additionally, the Aedes lay eggs in water containing organic material, for example, decaying leaves, and algae during the day time.

Dengue can result in fever, joint pain, headache, body ache, rashes, exhaustion and in minor cases fatal haemorrhages.

Climate

Dengue is predominately more common in monsoon and post monsoon. The monsoon weather has been shown to be most conducive to the Ades mosquito. Additionally, the Ades mosquito needs water bodies to breed and survive. These water bodies are observed during the months of June to November.

Additionally, Dengue peaks in September and October. Dengue is rarely seen between Jan to May due to higher temperatures. Similarly, mosquito breeding is prevalent from 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.

Additionally, studies have shown that due to climate change a near rise of 2 degrees Celsius would increase transmission of dengue disease. Furthermore, global warming could increase the number of locations affected with dengue as the temperature in eastern and northern states inches higher.

Dengue is prevalent during the monsoon due to water collections everywhere. Water collections are prevalent in water tankers, tyres, tubes, puddles, ponds, pots, and at construction sites.

Urbanisation

Urbanization in India and Dengue go hand in hand with the first modern day Dengue case reported in Kolkata in India in 1943. Moreover, the first Dengue epidemic was recorded in Kolkata between 1963 to 1964.

In the late 90’s Kothrud in Pune, India was one of the fastest developing urban areas in the country. Dengue was first reported in Kothrud in 1998 due to massive urbanization explosion. Urbanization brings with it uncleanliness, overcrowding, squatter settlement, sewage problems, trash disposal and water pollution. All these problems result in sluggish water in the form of puddles, water in tanks, pots, vessels, tyres, tubes and at construction sites.

Also, over the last few years due to the massive urbanization of rural areas, Dengue has been rampant in smaller towns and villages.

Dengue costs India USD 1.1 billion in healthcare costs either paid by the patient or reimbursed by Insurance companies.

Inadequate Water Supply and Sanitation

24*7 water supply is a distant dream for many Indians. As much as 69% of the country does not receive continuous water supply. Moreover, approx. 157 million or 41% Indians living in Urban areas are living without proper sanitation.

Additionally, due to inadequate water supply, people are forced to store water in overhead tanks and coolers at home. Still, water in tanks and water coolers that have not been cleaned over multiple days results in breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Also, lack of constant water supply results in poor personal hygiene and cleanliness that can result in multiple diseases. Moreover, the dirt in the water results in multiple additional diseases along with Dengue fever.

In Summary, rapid urbanization, poor sanitation, and un-continuous water supply coupled with conducive weather in India result in the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes like Ades that spread the Dengue virus.