DESPITE the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) efforts to control the outbreak of leptospirosis and dengue in the city, the number of cases, though fewer than last year, continue to be alarming. This has prompted the health department to initiate a research project to study the diseases and their prevalence in specific localities.
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the BMC has decided to rope in doctors and postgraduate students from the four civic-run hospitals to participate in the project, expected to take one to two years.
While the proposal is being finalised and is likely to be sent to civic chief Ajoy Mehta for approval, the project will be aimed at studying the diseases as well as their prevalence in certain areas.
“Despite our efforts, the number of cases of leptospirosis and dengue is not decreasing. The study will look into the changing patterns of the bacteria that causes leptospirosis and the dengue virus. The researchers will try to understand the reasons behind changes in symptoms and conduct surveys to understand why the diseases are more prevalent in some areas,” said Padmaja Keskar, executive health officer.
Following meetings with the four hospitals —KEM, Sion, Nair and Cooper, the health department decided to involve professors, associate professors, lecturers and postgraduate students of the Preventive Social Medicine department. “Only those who have completed their MBBS will participate. Each project will have multiple sub-groups responsible for various aspects of a disease,” said Keskar. She said after the research, each group would submit a thesis paper to the civic administration. “The findings will help us formulate a more effective strategy and will be used for reference,” she said.
If successful, she added, the project could be extended to other diseases as well. The original idea was to consider leptospirosis alone, which claimed more than 18 lives last year. But dengue was added to the list considering the significant number of cases in the city. While leptospirosis —that occurs in rodents, dogs and other mammals — is transmitted from animals to humans directly through contact with the urine or tissue of infected animals, dengue is a mosquito-borne tropical disease.
In the last two years, the health department has undertaken campaigns against leptospirosis, including a comprehensive plan involving several departments in which they came up with a ward-wise plan.
Apart from inspecting 326 cattlesheds in the city home to around 31,000 cows, bulls, goats and buffaloes, health inspectors issued notices and even filed more than 170 FIRs against defaulters. Similar campaigns were taken up against dengue too last year, including inspections of residential societies.