Delhi experiences five year malaria high

City health officials in Delhi, India, announced on Tuesday that malaria cases are at a five year high as a result of recent rains and staffing issues.

As of August 11, approximately 458 cases of malaria were reported in the city, representing a five year high since 2007, when 137 cases were reported by that time. There were 203 cases throughout the entire year of 2008, 134 cases in 2009, 163 in 2010 and a jump to 266 cases in 2011, the Indian Express reports.

Heavy rains in the past few weeks triggered a jump in cases.

Ram Dayal Mahto, the chairperson of the North Delhi Corporation's malaria prevention committee, said that the heightened number of cases is the result of a staffing crunch.

"All the six posts in this department are vacant," Mahto said, according to the Indian Express. "Of the 360 posts of malaria supervisors, 244 are yet to be filled up. We have just nine senior field workers, whereas the sanctioned strength is 100. How can we take up anti-malaria operations such as fumigation and cleaning of water bodies and drains to stop mosquito breeding without adequate manpower? We are lucky that the monsoon failed this year. Otherwise, we would have been grappling with an epidemic."

A spokesperson for the corporation said a new data collecting technique has increased the number of cases reported by including lab reports in with reported hospital cases, the Indian Express reports.