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In State, 40,000 Contracted Infection, 67 Died Between January And November Last Year

Not just dengue, but malaria too has claimed a sizable number of lives in the state last year. As per the latest report of the state health department, as many as 40,000 people contracted the mosquito–borne infection, and 67 of them succumbed to it between January and November, 2013.

Of these, 25 people died due to malaria in Mumbai alone. The numbers were, however, down from 2012, when there were 54,000 malaria cases and 87 people succumbed to the disease in the state. There were no malariarelated deaths in Pune during the period.

A senior state health official said, "Malaria is no longer restricted to monsoon. Due to rising construction activity and poor sanitation, cases are found throughout the year. Cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Nashik report the maximum cases. Fewer people might die of the disease, but is afflicting more."

Since the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has started collecting data from private hospitals about cases and deaths due to mosquito–borne infections and other communicable diseases, the number has increased.

As per the PMC records, the city has reported 151 malaria cases till November, 2013. "There was no malariarelated casualty in Pune city during the year," said S T Pardeshi, medical officer of health (MoH), PMC.

Malaria Not Limited to Monsoon: Report

An official from the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) spoke about the spurt of malaria cases in Mumbai. "The rise is mainly due to the large number of construction projects being undertaken in the metropolis. Besides, the high humidity levels contribute to the increase in the number."

BMC officials said that compared to 2012, the spread of malaria was controlled last year because the corporation roped in health workers and representatives from primary health centres, local dispensaries, peripheral and tertiary hospitals to the ward offices and the building proposal department.

"Notices were issued to builders warning them that they would get stop–work notices if they did not ensure that there is no water stagnation at construction sites," the official said.

Commenting on the rise in cases in Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Gondia districts, a former entomologist with the state health department said, "These are malaria–endemic districts. Especially, the P Falciparum strain of malaria has a high presence in Gadchiroli and adjoining districts. Moreover, officials are scared to conduct regular surveillance activities in their respective assigned areas here due to Naxal activities."

The expert said, "These are mainly tribal districts. About 10% of the people here are found to be asymptomatic as they have an inbuilt immunity against the malaria parasite due to long exposure to the infection. These people are carriers of malaria transmission. Besides, there are patients who refuse to take full treatment of anti–malaria drugs due to which the parasite may remain in their blood."

Identification of high–risk areas is based on parameters like slide positivity rate, annual parasite incidence, and deaths due to malaria.

Prevention measures involve curbing the development of mosquito larvae. The female anopheles mosquito lays eggs in clean water. Each female anopheles mosquito lays millions of eggs in its lifetime of four to eight weeks. "The eggs hatch into larvae, which then develop into pupae and adults in a span of seven to 10 days. The best method of mosquito control is preventing the development of the eggs into adult mosquitoes," the official said.

Times of India
06 Jan 2014,
Pune, India
by - Umesh Isalkar

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