Reports from several states in India indicate that dengue fever, an infectious virus carried by mosquitoes, is on the rise this month. But some think that public concern over the disease might be prompted by a celebrity -- rather than health -- obsession.
It's typical for dengue to visit India in the post-monsoon months of October to December, when wet conditions and standing water allow mosquitoes to proliferate. But this year, the scourge's impacts were highlighted by the death of 80-year-old Bollywood movie mogul Yash Chopra, who died last week in Mumbai after suffering from a combination of kidney ailments and dengue.
"The death of renowned Bollywood filmmaker Yash Chopra on Sunday due to dengue has triggered fears that dengue could affect anyone —rich or poor," wrote Saudi Arabia's Gulf News.
This year, several states have reported increases in dengue cases and death. In New Delhi alone, 75 additional confirmed cases were discovered over the weekend.
“A fortnight ago, 8-10 patients would get their blood samples tested for dengue on a daily basis, but now the number is 20-25, with a minimum of seven testing positive for dengue,” lab director Awanti Golwilkar Mehendale, who works near Pune, told the Indian Express.
But the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has said there's nothing to worry about and that the numbers this season -- so far 835 cases have been reported -- are lower than they were in past years.
That's led some Indian doctors to believe that patients' anxiety has partly been prompted Chopra's prominence and his death, as Al Jazeera reported. Chopra was a beloved figure, producing and directing hundreds of musical films starting in the 1950s.
"If a celebrity like Chopra can be infected with dengue, what can the common man expect? I fear for my children more for a mosquito than any terrorist attack," one New Delhi resident told Al Jazeera.
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