City Swarms Diagnostic Labs for Quick Malaria Tests
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29 July 2010
By Sukhada Tatke
Another Death Takes Mumbai’s Toll For July To 15, Caution Drives People With Any Fever To Civic Hospitals & Nursing Homes
So, if you are a resident of Dadar, Parel, Byculla, Kings Circle, Ghatkopar, Kurla or Andheri, you need to be extra cautious. Besides witnessing a flurry of construction, these malaria hotspots are also close to railway tracks, identified as breeding grounds for the female anopheles mosquito. Malaria Most Rampant In 7 Civic Wards in The City
To understand the extent of the malaria sweep this year, one only needs to look at the entries in the various diagnostic laboratories spread across the city. The numbers are higher than ever before. Also, worried Mumbaikars are flooding laboratories with requests for “quick results within 30 minutes” even as some laboratories have begun a slam package for testing the root cause of the pesky fever.
The biggest healthcare operator – the BMC – took over 1 lakh blood smears and found 12,000 testing positive for the mosquito–borne disease in July alone. Other laboratories – be it national players such as SRL and Metropolis or local labs like Dr Daswani’s Lab in Colaba – too are seeing more than the usual crowd walking in for the test. “Patients are walking into the labs with a single plea: &lsquoPlease give the test results at the earliest’,” said one lab owner in south Mumbai. Dr Deepak Daswani said his lab was receiving large number of requests.
According to Dr Gustad Daver, medical director of Hinduja Hospital, “There are a lot of malaria cases this year. While in June our laboratory conducted 533 tests, the numbers jumped to 1,247 tests in July.” His hospital, too, has many malaria patients admitted.
According to Dr Nilesh Shah of Metropolis Laboratory, Worli, “There is certainly a distinct difference in the volumes this year as compared to last year.” He dubs it the highest he has seen in his laboratory so far. At his laboratory itself, positivity of cases has jumped from 4% in 2008 to 12% in June 2010.
Said Dr Sanjeev K Chaudhry, CEO of the SRL network of labs, “This monsoon has seen an unprecedented rise of almost 100% of malaria screenings in Maharashtra over last year and almost 90% of these cases are accounted from Mumbai city alone.” So, if 1,600 people were screened for malaria in July 2009, the corresponding figure for this year is 3,500. “Our fever panels (malaria screening is a part of the package) has grown in popularity as it allows patients to get tested for all kinds of fever, including malaria, in one go,” he added.
Checkups vital for workers
Admitting that malaria cases are on the rise in Mumbai, especially in areas with ongoing construction activities, guardian minister for Mumbai (island city) Jayant Patil directed BMC officials to conduct health checkups of contract labourers every 15 days as they are the most vulnerable to malaria. Patil said there are nearly three lakh such workers in the city. Construction sites, closed mills and slums are the breeding grounds for mosquitoes.” However, referring to reports about malaria leading to heart attacks, Patil said, “There is no such co–relation. Nevertheless I have asked civic officials to verify the reports.” – Sanjeev Shivadekar