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Tamil Nadu - Coimbatore Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

A public health challenge, every monsoon

K.V. Prasad

Lack of awareness about storage or stagnation of water is reason for spread of diseases


COIMBATORE: Every monsoon sees the Government's public health machinery gearing to prevent the outbreak of diseases, especially the ones caused by a virus or parasite transmitted by mosquitoes.

Health officials say that every year, they carry out awareness drives in which the disease-causing factors are listed out. And, the most common among these is the practice of storing water in open containers or allowing rain water to collect in discarded items such as coconut shells, broken buckets or mugs. Yet, poor penetration of the awareness and a compelling tendency to disregard health department guidelines lead to rise in the incidence every monsoon.

In fact, dengue cases occur throughout the year in Coimbatore and monsoon sees a spurt, often in clusters where unsafe storage or stagnation of water persists. Clear water in open containers or stagnating on buildings because of structural flaws provides an ideal breeding ground for Aedes aegypti, the mosquitoes that carry the dengue-causing flavivirus.

While this is the cause for the occurrence throughout the year, the spurt during monsoon is also attributed to breeding in water stagnating in discarded items strewn around the very houses of the victims.

“This is a common scenario in any urban setting. But, the rural areas are not far behind,” says Deputy Director of Health Services, Coimbatore Health Unit District, S. Senthilkumar.

The breeding of mosquitoes is more at locations of new constructions. These sites would have a number of open containers filled with water. Left open overnight or during a weekend, these will be turned into breeding space by the mosquitoes, the official says. “We focus mostly on houses and their environs. Basically, some of the practices are to be blamed for the spurt in the incidence. People think only big water tanks are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It can breed in water stagnating on a sunshade because of a block in the drain pipe,” he explains.

“It is that extra bit of caution that people can exercise that will avoid trouble for them during monsoon. What is done during summer cannot continue during monsoon. The mosquito density will be less during summer. It goes up only during monsoon because of the availability of fresh water for breeding space. If we eliminate this space, the battle is won,” he points out.

Dr. Senthilkumar says that dengue and chikungunya (caused by alpha virus that is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito) can be a severe drain on one's time, energy and money. If one person is affected, its impact is felt on the entire family.

Chikungunya causes severe joint pain, thereby preventing normal activity over many days of excruciatingly slow recovery

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