Number of malaria cases has increased compared to last year

If there is a season for everything, then, coming up, is the season of fevers. Chennai, owing to its weather, has a season of fevers – the season that public health experts dread and watch out for.

The change of weather, the oncoming rainy season and high humidity levels are the breeding grounds for all kids of infection-causing bacteria and viruses. Beware of water-borne diseases like acute diarrhoeal disorders, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis; air-borne infections like tuberculosis, viral infections (such as conjunctivitis), chicken pox, measles, and influenza; and mosquito-borne infections like malaria and dengue.

That, in short, would be a virtual smorgasbord of infections that can infect people. The main cause, according to Corporation Health Officer, P. Kugananthan, is the high levels of atmospheric humidity. This allows manifold multiplication of disease-causing organisms (bacteria/virus), and vectors (mosquitoes/rats) that carry these organisms to humans.

“Public health experts in this part of the country are always worried about infection control in the months of October, November and December, and the month that leads up, September. We expect the numbers to go up and we also have to be on guard,” he added.

While statistics provided by the Corporation show that in terms of total number of cases, malaria has probably dropped in the last five – ten years, the current statistics are by no means reassuring. Clearly, drawing closer to the months of July, August and September, the number of malaria cases have increased (in some cases doubled), even compared to the same period last year. Facts also prove that an increase in ADD cases is by no means imaginary.

“There is no doubt we have to watch out these months - we have our highest burden seasonally. However, we try to prepare for it by providing awareness on vector control activities; stepping up entomological research; and intensifying mosquito control tasks,” adds R.T. Porkaipandian, Director of Public Health.

Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni says the civic body has intensified mosquito control activities and also started awareness drives for private players in health to pick up and treat the major diseases early. If private hospitals or practitioners do not report a notifiable disease, then regulatory action can be initiated against them under the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act.