The warning of an epidemic striking the flood-hit Uttarakhand is loud and clear. But closer home, health experts note that the Capital too – which faced a flood-like situation early this month – should be gearing up to combat a spurt in the number of cases of dengue, malaria and water-borne diseases.

It is not a new situation that the city finds itself in. Dengue is known to strike right after the onset of monsoon and has been posing a big challenge to health authorities over the years. “The season brings with it not just diseases, but also acute pressure on the city’s 65 authorised and listed blood banks that have to cater to a population of nearly 22 million residents of Delhi and nearby towns of Gurgaon, Sonepat, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida,’’ said State Blood Transfusion Council director Bharat Singh. The blood banks are prepared to ‘take-on the situation’ and the additional need for blood in treating dengue cases is already accounted for, said Dr. Singh.

“What makes the season stressful for the blood banks is that the monsoon and dengue season strikes right after the relatively dry months of March, April and May when the city colleges are closed and the intense summer does not encourage people to come out for voluntary blood donation. The season then starts on with relatively less reserves of blood, which, of course, always comes with a very stringent date of expiry,’’ said Sonu Singh of Rotary Blood Bank. “Voluntary blood donation continues to be a major source of blood reserves for the city and as the dengue threat looms large, the pressure to ensure quality blood to patients without any problem is a big challenge,’’ she added.

Speaking about the prediction for dengue this year, New Delhi Municipal Council chief medical officer R.N. Singh said: “With the water swelling and now receding in the Yamuna and the adjoining low-lying areas, the rise in vector-borne disease and other water-borne infections is a real threat. Dengue scare is there because when the flood recedes, it will leave water pockets behind. Rain coupled with humidity will provide the right environment for mosquitoes to breed.’’

“The mosquitoes which carry dengue virus breed in clean water and with so much water-logging and the humid weather that the city is experiencing currently, we are concerned about the spread of the disease,’’ added Mr. Sharma. With this warning being issued by the civic bodies, doctors in the city, too, admit dengue-related shortfall in blood supply pinches most this time of the year.

“On an average, Delhi and nearby areas require around five lakh units of blood annually. The shortfall in blood then pinches when the pressure for blood goes up, especially during the dengue season,’’ said R.K. Saran, chairman of Blood Transfusion Medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

The season brings with it not just diseases, but also acute pressure on authorised and listed blood banks

Bharat SinghState Blood Transfusion Council director