Well, three weeks later, here we are! I thought about adjusting the date of my original post, but that would be oh so dishonest. I’ll just pick up where I left off, I guess.
The big news around here is dengue, though it looks as if the mini-epidemic may be waning. Dengue, caused by four closely related viruses, is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. From what I gather, it’s an unusual mosquito-borne disease in that that its carriers thrive in an urban environment, don’t need murky water to live, and bite mainly during the day. Most cases of dengue are rather uneventful; if you catch only one virus subtype at once, you have flu-like symptoms, pain behind the eyes, and bone pain. But catch one or more in quick succession and there’s trouble: possible hemmorhaging and death. With proper medical treatment, only 1% of those with the severe dengue die. In India’s current outbreak, nearly 6,000 people have been infected and over 100 have died (according to National Geographic news)
My friends and I have been pretty concerned about this (though to be honest the nervousness is wearing off) because the epicenter of the outbreak occured at the All Indian Institute of Medical Studies (AIIMS), a nearby medical school and hospital. The word is that on-campus hygiene was so bad that the dengue mosquitos took over. This explanation kind of perplexes me, since the whole weirdness of Aedes mosquitos is that it doesn’t take standing dirty water to breed the things. But whatever. Point is, it’s awfully disconcerting to have medical students and doctors dying a mile or so away, and that the big plan was for most people in the city who had symptoms to go to AIIMS for testing.
I’m a little hazy on the logistics of how Delhi’s healthcare system handled the huge intake of patients, but this article in Frontline discusses some of the issues that dengue has exposed in the past two months.
In a related note: I learned recently from a 2002 World Bank report that approximately 25 percent of Indians who are hospitalized drop below the poverty line because of that hospitalization. Interestingly, despite the fact that that report is entirely focused on addressing the health needs of those Indians without much money, it is not available free online. $13 is a lot of rupees.