Updated: September 3, 2020 2:23:29 pm
Good hygiene practices and intake of immunity boosters as well as prophylaxis following the Covid-19 outbreak have led to a sharp decline in the number of people affected by vector-borne diseases, including malaria, this year in Ahmedabad.
Experts attribute it to the decline in the anopheles mosquito density in the city to one fifth during the peak monsoon season as compared to previous years.
In the past three years, in March, per-room mosquito density had reported an increase across the species — aedes, culicines and anopheles — which are responsible for malaria, dengue, falciparum and chikungunya. The mosquito that was was 10.81 in 2018 and 10.63 in 2019, fell to merely 2.41 in August this year.
The density of anopheles mosquito responsible for the transmission of malaria in August dropped from 5.88 in 2018 to 4.04 in 2019. However, it saw a one-eighth decline to 0.59, this year.
This was subsequently reflected in the drastic decline in number of cases of malaria reported in the city till August this year. The cases plummeted from 2,820 in 2019 to 254 in 2020. Similarly, 557 dengue cases in 2019 from January till August dropped by more than half, to 203 this year. The Malaria Epidemic Cell of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) health department has data collected from private and public health facilities, including urban health centres and general hospital.
Dr Bhavin Solanki, medical officer of health, said, “Despite being the peak season for aedes mosquito, its density hiked slightly in March but dropped drastically by August, compared to last year.”
The average per-room mosquito density for aedes mosquito — the primary vector of dengue and chikungunya — was reported to be 0.25 in March, a jump from 0.08 from 2019. But the data in August revealed that the density dropped from 1.31 in 2018 to 0.93 in 2019.
Rajesh Sharma, programme incharge of vector-borne disease control programme of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s health department, attributed this downward trend to people taking immunity-boosters as well as cleanliness during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“Nearly 90 per cent of the population has taken immunity-boosting prophylactics and multi vitamins. Also, increased awareness on cleanliness, hygiene, mosquito related information such as water storage helped in controlling vector-borne diseases,” said Sharma.
He added that “earlier people would not pay attention to community information through radio, leaflets, etc., but during lockdown, they paid attention to those. Also, cleaning homes and surroundings was a means to kill time helped”. The authorities are crediting the Dhanvantri Raths for the positive effect as they started covering vector-borne diseases apart from Covid-19.
“The Dhanvantri Raths that were already taking care of the city’s Covid requirement, started offering tests for malaria since June,” said Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Mukesh Kumar.
Since June, nearly 2,700 malaria tests were conducted by Dhanvantri Raths, which reported 37 malaria positive cases from the city, till August 31.
“With monsoon being active, malaria and dengue tests are also conducted by the health team of Dhanvantri Raths. We are distributing Covid-care kits. Socks were added to these kits to combat malaria,” he said.
Malaria’s peak season is well past over, however, with unlock measures, the city is still at a threat of dengue and chikungunya. “Vector-borne cases, especially dengue and chikungunya, may go up in September and October it is the peak time for the breeding of aedes mosquito,” Sharma added.
There is not much decline in the number of chikungunya cases that were 57 so far this year, compared to 59 in 2019.
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