India is making all efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed over 46,000 lives so far since the first case appeared on January 30. But the novel coronavirus is not the only threat facing the people of the country right now. Cases of vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue are rising as heavy rains lashed many parts of the country.
According to data shared by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), 45 cases of malaria have been recorded in the national capital this year till August 8. In the same period, 35 cases of dengue and 23 chikungunya were also reported, it said.
The SDMC is the nodal agency that tabulates data on vector-borne diseases for the entire city.
Last year, Delhi registered a total of 2,036 vector-borne diseases throughout that year, with two deaths recorded officially, as per the data shared by the SDMC.
Prevention and control of vector-borne diseases
The SDMC had last week issued an advisory on prevention and control of vector-borne diseases in Delhi. SDMC Commissioner Gyanesh Bharti highlighted the need to focus more on premises of educational institutions which have been shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These places have a higher chance of having mosquito-breeding spots, he stated
He pointed out that the reduction in mosquito breeding is the best way to prevent and control dengue, malaria and chikungunya. Therefore, he asked all the heads of departments of various agencies, including DMRC, DJB, DDA, Delhi Police, PWD, CPWD, to nominate nodal officers to ensure preventive measures, especially prevention of mosquito-breeding at source. Preventive measures listed in the advisory include:
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Ensuring that there is no artificial water collection in open grounds, roofs of buildings, flower pots, etc.
Keeping the overhead tanks empty covered and locked.
Covering unused vehicles like school or college or parking them in covered spaces to prevent the collection of water inside them.
Scrubbing and cleaning all coolers once a week and mopping it dry before refilling.
In coolers that cannot be emptied, put one tablespoon of tempos granules or a few drops of petrol.
Do not leave unused or broken bottles, plastic cups, pots, tyres, etc. that can hold water in the open.
The advisory also noted that dengue mosquito larvae breed in clear, standing water, while those of malaria thrive even in dirty water.
Some facts about vector-borne diseases
According to the WHO, vector-borne diseases account for over 17% of all infectious diseases, leading to more than 700 000 deaths worldwide annually. These diseases are caused by parasites, bacteria, or viruses that are transmitted by vectors between humans, or from animals to humans.
The vectors could be bloodsucking insects, which ingest infectious pathogens during a blood meal from an infected host (human or animal) and later transmit it into a new host after the pathogen has replicated.
Vector-borne diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes include
Rift Valley fever
West Nile fever
Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted by Anopheline mosquitoes, while dengue and chikungunya are viral infections transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
There are many other vector-borne diseases that can be transmitted by vectors like ticks, triatomine bugs, sandflies, snails, lice, fleas, etc.
Usually, vector-borne diseases spike between July and November, but cases may be reported till mid-December, the SDMC advisory said.