Central ministry claims low dengue fatality rates despite high number of cases

Given the rising number of dengue cases across the country, the central health ministry on Tuesday appealed to the public to not panic in case of symptoms. Though 19,704 cases of dengue have been reported till 6 September, according to the ministry’s own data, not accounting for under-reporting, the Director General (Health Services) Dr Jagdish Prasad, was quick to point out the falling fatality rates, when addressing the press. The ratio currently is 0.20 per cent, calculared according to number of deaths per 100 cases, very low, the ministry said, “as per international experiences”.


India’s serious outbreaks of dengue were in 1986 and in 2006 and, the ministry claimed, they had predicted high rates for 2015 and prepared well in advance for it, taking into consideration rain patterns, climate changes, rapid industrialisation and urbanisation.

2015 has seen 41 deaths out of the 19704 cases, of which Karnataka with 3419 cases and Kerala with 29390 cases lead the pack. 19 of those deaths, alarmingly, are from Kerala alone. Maharashtra has seen 1365 cases with 4 deaths so far, faring much better than in in 2014, when 18 people died in the same time frame out of the 2631 who were diagnosed with dengue. Out of these Greater Mumbai registered 306 cases, Thane, 285.

Delhi has had 1259 reported dengue cases, with 2 deaths, though there are some concerns that the between the hospitals and the Delhi government, which functions as the central ministry’s nodal point to collate the number of cases, the numbers coming through are not quite accurate. Hospitals are supposed to notify the government on the basis of two tests — ELISA based IgM kits and the ELISA based NS1 kits.

In terms of absolute figures, 2014 saw 37 deaths for a total of 10097 cases, till 31 August, lower than 2015’s 41 deaths. However, Dr Prasad said that in terms of ratio, the country was doing better than before, and the increase from 37 to 41 could not be seen as a substantial one.

A worrying matter that the ministry says it is looking into is the efficacy of the Rapid Card Test (RCT), a test used only in the private sector, and bad in government facilities. Dr. Prasad said that 50 per cent of RCTs give false positives, leading to unnecessary panic. The test is under review by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Dr Prasad also said that people with dengue fever, but no incidences of bleeding need not be hospitalised until their platelet count hit 10,000. Those who start bleeding, or go into shock or have additional complications, diabetes for example, should be admitted to a hospital. He said that the body has the ability to fight off any virus as long as the patient is on complete bedrest.

State wise dengue cases

state dengue case deaths

Karnataka – 3,419 – 4

Kerala – 2,930 19

Tamil Nadu – 2,287 5

Arunachal Pradesh – 1,682 4

Andhra Pradesh – 1,633 0

Maharashtra – 1,365 4

Delhi – 1259 2