In a potential new threat to public health in the city, the culex vishnui mosquito, a carrier of Japanese encephalitis which was rarely found in the past, is now breeding in certain areas, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Medical Parasitology of the PGIMER.
In particular, culex vishnui has been found in the PGI residential area, Dhanas village, and Sector 25. However, no case of Japanese encephalitis has so far been reported. Nevertheless, the Health Department has been alerted and action initiated to eliminate the larvae.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral disease which causes inflammation of the membranes around the brain. The disease has high mortality and survivors often suffer from life-long physical deformities.
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The news of culex vishnui breeding in the city was shared by the PGI doctors on World Health Day on. This year’s theme is vector-borne diseases, “Small Bite BIG Threat.” The major vector-borne diseases are malaria, kala azar, and elephantiasis, all caused by parasites, and dengue, Japanese encephalitis and chikungunya, caused by viruses.
The Department of Medical Parasitology has established a separate unit of medical entomology (study of insects) to study the vectors (carriers) of important diseases, which conducted a survey of medically important mosquito species in the city from June to September 2013.
To collect the specimens of larvae and adult mosquito species, Chandigarh was divided into three parts, which consisted of urban areas, urban slums, and rural areas.
“Various breeding sites were spotted and from these sites several medically important mosquito species were isolated, such as aedes aegypti, anopheles stephensi and others. These are potential vectors of many diseases like malaria, dengue, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis, and kala azar,” Dr Abhishek Mewara of the Parasitology Department said.
“Culex vishnui, a vector of Japanese encephalitis, which was rarely isolated in this region previously, is now observed to be breeding extensively. We have informed the Health Department of the sites and they have taken action to eliminate the larvae,”said Dr Rakesh Sehgal, Head of the Department of Parasitology.