This article has been authored by Dr. Zeenat Ahmed, who is Consultant – Internal Medicine, at Jaypee Hospital Noida. Dr. Zeenat completed MD (Internal Medicine) from S.C.B. Medical College, Cuttack. She has worked as a senior registrar in Sadarjung Hospital and G.B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi. She has done a fellowship in diabetes from MVDRC, Chennai.. To know more about Dr. Zeenat or book an appointment, please call 0120 – 412 2222
“Malaria has reached a stage where resistance to the anti-malarial drug chloroquine is spreading fast in India. It was 30% before 1996 and increased to 91% in 2000-2001. As a single drug, it is no longer effective, doctors use a combination of high intensity drugs to control infection.”
Within weeks after the pre-monsoon showers hit the city, the tabloids carry headlines on the outbreak of dengue and malaria. Sub-standard hygiene, open drains and residents not adhering to the guidelines of the health department, have made our cities breeding grounds for deadly mosquitoes that spread these diseases.
How do mosquitoes spread infections?
In medical terms we call them vectors, because they carry several classes of microorganisms, viruses and spread infections from one host to next. Mosquito that bites an infected human or animal can pick up the virus along with the blood meal. The mosquito is not harmed by the virus even though the virus reproduces inside it which it can pass to other humans when biting them.
Dengue – is caused by the virus DEN-V from the family Flaviviridae. Symptoms begin with high fever, severe frontal headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, rashes, nausea and vomiting. If not treated early, it can cause dengue haemorrhagic fever and multi-organ failure.
Chikungunya – Originally from Africa, this disease recurred in India in 2006. Symptoms include headache, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and severe joint pain. The infection can be acute and lasts a couple of weeks. There is no vaccine against chikungunya and symptomatic treatment is used to treat aches and fever. It can cause painful limb deformity that may last several months.
Malaria – is caused by four different species of the one celled parasite Plasmodium namely – P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. vivax, and P. ovale. Of these, P falciparum infection is the deadliest as it affects the brain and can cause death.
Japanese Encephalitis (JE) – This virus breeds in flooded fields & marshes. It attacks the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms usually start with flu-like fever, chills, tiredness, headache, nausea & vomiting.
Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) – Commonly known as elephantiasis, this disease is a disabling infection that damages the lymphatic system and causes painful, swollen limbs. This is caused by 3 types of thread-like parasitic filarial worms which are transmitted by mosquitoes.
Protection against vector borne diseases:
The National Vector Borne Disease Programme is working on a war footing scale to develop control mechanisms against these diseases. Safeguarding is important and checking of breeding sites in each house and office complex must be done regularly.
- Use repellent or a mosquito net.
- Keep your body covered and especially protect children and pregnant women.
- Replace the water in flower vase, water coolers or uncovered storage vessels or tanks.
- Put mosquito screen on windows
- Repair or prevent water leaks
- Clear clogged gutters and drains
- Maintain clean swimming pools
- Always finish the complete course of medicines prescribed by the doctor.