Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei
Washington: In what could be termed as a 'grave situation' in the country's health scenario, a new study has revealed that the annual number of dengue fever cases in India is nearly 300 times higher than officially reported.
The study, published online Tuesday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, found that about six million people in India got the viral disease between 2006 and 2012, which is 282 times the official annual average of 20,474 cases and 132 deaths.
The study was led by researchers at Brandeis University's Schneider Institute for Health Policy in Waltham, Massachusetts, the INCLEN Trust International in New Delhi, and the Indian Council of Medical Research's Centre for Research in Medical Entomology (CRME) in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
“We found that India had nearly 6 million annual clinically diagnosed dengue cases between 2006 and 2012,” said Donald Shepard, lead author of the study and a health economics professor at Brandeis University.
“Yet we believe even that number may be low because dengue reporting is better in the area we studied- the state of Tamil Nadu than in most other Indian states due to its well-established medical surveillance system.”
For the first time, the study used systematic empirical data to arrive at its striking estimates for both the disease burden and the direct and indirect costs of dengue in India.
India is believed to have more cases of dengue than any other country in the world and except for a slight dip in 2011, the incidence rate has grown steadily there in recent years, the study said.
Dengue infects 50 to 390 million people each year in more than 100 countries, causing at least 20,000 deaths annually.
Dengue is transmitted by the day-biting Aedes mosquitoes and symptoms range from mild fever to incapacitating high fever with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain and rashes. There is no specific treatment or vaccine for dengue available as of now.
With Agency Inputs