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Malaria cases on the rise in Thrissur

Mini Muringatheri

82 cases reported so far in the district; most of them among migrant labourers

—Special Arrangement

Most affected: Makeshift sheds of migrant workers near a construction site in Thrissur.

Thrissur: Malaria, which made a comeback in Kerala after it was officially eradicated several years ago, has been causing deep concern for the people and health authorities in Thrissur district.

In a district, which is home to three medical colleges and the medical university, so far 82 cases of malaria have been reported this year. Last year, 154 instances of malaria attack were reported.

Of the 82 cases this year, 77 cases were due to plasmodium vivax infection; one due to plasmodium falciparum and four due to mixed infections. Seven of last year's 154 cases were caused by plasmodium falciparum.

Worrying trend

While plasmodium vivax, a protozoal parasite, is less dangerous, plasmodium falciparum infection can be fatal. According to World Health Organisation, plasmodium falciparum is a major killer across the world.

Thrissur district in the past had a decent health record, but the situation has changed drastically now in spite of the fact that healthcare facilities have improved remarkably. The outbreak of infections and emergence of eradicated diseases such as malaria are particularly worrying.

District Medical Officer A.S. Surendran told The Hindu that most of the malaria cases identified in the district were among migrant labourers, mainly from north Indian States of Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal. Some persons who had been working out side the State also come for treatment after they were infected by the disease, he added.

“No indigenous spreading has been reported so far in the district this year,” he said. He does not rule out chances for it, though. Resurgence of Malaria in the State, which claims high health standards, poses a real challenge for the Health Department.

“The Health Department conducts screening test for malaria among the migrant labourers as soon as they arrive at their work sites,” Dr. Surendran said.

Block Health Inspectors have been asked to monitor construction sites and building contractors were asked to report to the health centres as soon as new workers arrived, the DMO said.

Health camps

“Regular health camps have been conducted at the places where there is sizeable number of migrant labourers. Blood smears have been collected and drugs administered as soon as symptoms are found.”

As most of the construction workers stay in the makeshift sheds near the worksites, they are more susceptible to attack of mosquitoes, which are the disease carrying vectors. Malaria is a parasitic disease that involves high fevers, shaking chills, flu-like symptoms and anaemia.

Female anopheles mosquitoes infected by the malaria parasite spread the disease. The parasite that enter bloodstream, infect the red blood cells.

Viral fever cases

The district also reported a spurt in the number of viral fever cases which were common during the monsoon season. Recently, about 850 trainees at the Kerala Police Academy were administered drugs for swine flu, as many of them started showing flu-like symptoms.

Among the random samples collected from 16 trainees, 8 were reported positive for A(H1N1) influenza. So far 133 swine flu cases were confirmed in the district.

Healthcare professionals say stern steps are necessary to revive Thrissur's past healthy profile. For this, they said, the cooperation of the public were necessary.

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