Every monsoon brings in its wake a string of fever cases and with it the fear of an outbreak of diseases such as dengue and chikungunya that are caused by viruses transmitted through mosquito bites. It is just that situation the city is going through now. The fresh concern was triggered when students of the nursing school on the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital premises fell sick recently.
Two of the students were admitted to the intensive care unit – one at the CMCH and the other in a private hospital. The girl in the private hospital was diagnosed with leptospirosis, another typical monsoon disease.
Though the occurrence was noted only among a cluster of students, there was fear among public health officials that more cases of dengue could surface in the locality around the hospital.
Aedes aegypti – the mosquito that carried the dengue-causing flavivirus – can fly into the nearby areas.
And, the situation outside the hospital also provides breeding space for the mosquito. Recklessly dumped disposable cups, tyres and broken bottles lie in the open to accommodate rain water, which is Aedes aegyti's ideal breeding ground. Health officials are anguished that efforts to educate the public to the risk of such reckless dumping are not yielding the desired results.
A spurt in dengue cases during one monsoon frightens people into following the health department's advice. But, they have to be sensitised all over again during the next monsoon.
A combination of lack of sensitivity among the public in terms of discarding waste and the inability of the local bodies to put in place a total waste removal system serve up numerous breeding spaces for the mosquito species that also carries the alpha virus, which causes chikungunya.
While its waste management scheme has not fully taken off, the Coimbatore Corporation is trying to prevent an epidemic through its mosquito control measures.
But the lack of 24-hour water supply and the long interval between two dates of supply force people to store water in an unsafe manner. Stored in open containers, drinking water or even bore well water also become breeding spaces for mosquitoes.
With both these problems not to be solved soon, the local body – with an extended city area now – has its task further stretched out to prevent dengue, especially with it being endemic to Coimbatore.
The new challenge has come from the extended or added areas that have a number of open spaces/ vacant plots where rain water stagnates. It again serves as a breeding place for the virus-carrying mosquito.
These added areas, until now, also did not enjoy as much facilities and resources as the Corporation to fight against mosquito.
Now that they have become a part of the city, the Corporation will also have to make up for those areas.
Sources in the civic body say they have deployed a person for each of the 100 wards to carry out anti-mosquito activities like spraying larvicide.
Their job is to identify places where residents store water, advise them to take remedial action and also destroy larvae.
This is in addition to the fogging exercise the Corporation carries out. The sources say that each of the 100 wards is divided into seven areas for the workers to operate on all days of the week at an area a day. This cycle is in keeping the mosquito development cycle, in which it is important to strike at the larval stage.
The Corporation also carries out fogging operations at evenings to banish mosquitoes. The sources refer to the recent resolution the Corporation Council passed to purchase two vehicle-mounted fogging machines to take up the number of machines to five.
The Council also allowed the Corporation to purchase 50 hand-held machines to take the total to 100 to cater to all the wards. And also buy 40 spraying machines to be used in drains and water stagnant areas.
The sources assure that the civic body is taking all possible efforts to curtail mosquito menace.