It is not even remotely close to monsoons but malaria has already started claiming lives in the city. Up to three cases of malaria related deaths have been suspected to have occurred since January this year, said civic health officials. "We are suspecting deaths due to malaria and the cases are being investigated by the death inquiry committee constituted by the municipal corporation," said Dr Mangala Gomare, epidemiologist, public health department, BMC.
The city has seen 1,600 cases of malaria since January this year, with three suspected deaths. According to the civic officials, last year saw nearly 10,000 cases – a welcome decline from 79,000 cases in 2010. Since January, doctors observed sporadic cases of malaria involving high grade fever, headache, dehydration and fatigue.
"In 2013, we had recorded lesser cases of malaria as compared to previous years but we must not get complacent," said Dr Arun Bamne, executive health officer, BMC. Nearly 30 people fell victim to malaria last year.
Experts have noted a disturbing trend with dengue cases being reported throughout the year. Earlier, the virus was found to be breeding only during the monsoon. So far, this year 78 cases have been recorded. Dengue had claimed 11 lives last year.
Dipali Chakor, 26, a south Mumbai resident, was afflicted to painful dengue disease, two weeks ago. She survived after putting up a tough fight. "I had developed fever and rashes on my body for five days after which I consulted a doctor. I was admitted in the hospital for at least a week before showing any signs of recovery. I used to record fever as high 105 degree fahrenheit," said Dipali.
Dr Pratit Samdani, Dipali's consulting physician at Bhatia Hospital, Tardeo, said that she had come with high grade fever, swollen face, boils and red rashes across her body. "Her blood tests for dengue tested positive. Apart from a stark dip in platelet count, her liver was majorly swollen. She was suffering from dengue hepatitis and showed a major involvement of effect to the liver," said Dr Samdani.
"With no specific treatment, nearly 20% of dengue cases become complicated. The Aedes aegypti mosquito breeds indoors in man-made containers, flower pots, trays etc.," said Dr Mangala Gomare, epidemiologist, BMC.
Experts say that the bugs have become stronger than the drugs since the past few years. Mosquito-borne viruses are developing resistance to insecticides and undergoing deadly mutations. "Climate change, environmental temperatures, humidity are allowing insects to breed in places they did not breed before," said Dr Dhanashree Kelkar, consultant, infectious diseases at privately-run Global Hospitals, Parel.
"Earlier, dengue used to subside after four to five months of monsoon. But, the mosquito as well as the virus have adapted to climate change. The bug has become stronger than the drugs and is also mutating to adapt favourably to climate change. Otherwise there is no way that a mosquito or virus could have bred in such hot weather in Mumbai. But we are still recording sporadic cases and the situation will only get worse in monsoon," said Dr Samdani.