Malaria cases have spiked for the second month in a row with Mumbai recording 1,137 patients in August, up from the 872 cases in July. This is also a substantial increase from last year when just 438 and 824 malaria cases were registered in July and August, respectively. However, fewer dengue cases have been recorded this year. In August, Mumbai registered only 11 dengue cases, while in July there were 10 cases. In the corresponding period last year, the city had registered 134 cases in August and 29 in July.
“Usually, malaria cases surge between June and August when the Anopheles mosquito (carrier) breeds extensively in stagnant, dirty water. Dengue cases rise from August or September when Aedes Aegypti mosquito starts breeding. In the last few years, monsoon has been slightly delayed, that has affected Aedes mosquito breeding and hence dengue cases are low so far,” Dr Jeetendra Jadhav, medical officer in L ward (Kurla), said.
This year, monsoon showers began from mid-June, while last year it began from June 25. In 2018, the rains began from June 9 and in the preceding year from June 12.
Jadhav added while malaria cases were expected to reduce gradually and dengue to pick up from September onwards, this year the cycle has been delayed.
Increased mosquito breeding, too, has added to the number of malaria cases, officials said. The insecticide department, they added, has been engrossed in massive disinfection exercise due to Covid-19 pandemic and found little time to carry pest-control activities at construction sites that provide large breeding points for mosquitoes. More malaria cases have been reported from the eastern suburbs and the island city.
Dr Gulnar Khan, medical officer in K west (Andheri west), said there have been fewer dengue cases as a large number of people are not going to offices. “At home, people still manage to clear mosquito breeding spots under flowerpots, fridge, buckets and storage tanks. But in offices, this is neglected. Since dengue mosquito is a day-biter and fewer people are going to work, it could explain the drop in cases,” she said.
An Anopheles mosquito, that spreads malaria, breeds in outdoor dirty puddles and stagnant water like construction sites, while aedes aegypti, carrier of dengue virus, breeds in freshwater indoors. The BMC has begun a ‘construction drive’ to screen construction workers at sites for malaria symptoms and asked dispensaries to conduct rapid antigen tests for malaria for all suspected cases. People with fever, chill and cough are being tested for both malaria and Covid-19.
The civic public health department has recorded two deaths due to malaria in August, but no fatality due to dengue, leptospirosis or H1N1. One H1N1 case and 45 leptospirosis cases were recorded in August. In addition, there were 10 hepatitis cases and 53 gastroenteritis cases. Insecticide department has poisoned 72,921 rodent holes to kill rats, the most common leptospirosis carriers. Over 35,000 adults and 829 children have been administered prophylactic medication against leptospirosis, officials said.
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