Survey by Indian Public Health Association finds high density in suburban areas

The season for mangoes and jackfruits is also the season of houseflies. A common vector of intestinal infections, houseflies are more than a nuisance, doctors say.

Early this month, a survey carried out by the Tamil Nadu chapter of Indian Public Health Association (IPHA) found that the housefly density was high in suburban areas. A total of 25 sites in Chennai, 15 in Kancheepuram and 10 in Tiruvallur were surveyed.

The survey, which used the ‘sticky tape count’ method, found that when it came to housefly density, Chennai was better off than the other two districts. The method uses a cardboard with adhesive made of a sweetening agent for drawing houseflies.

“Except at the Koyambedu market, the housefly count was less than the normal range of 10 flies per cardboard in other places in the city. Most of the places in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur exceeded the normal range,” S. Elango, president of IPHA-TN, said.

One of the main reasons for the high density was improper disposal of mango waste, especially at outlets selling juice, as well as jackfruit waste, he added.

Entemologists say that houseflies can breed under any conditions, and wet garbage should not be left lying in and around houses as houseflies thrive on garbage. A senior gastroenterologist said that people should ensure proper disposal of garbage, particularly kitchen waste.

“The housefly itself does not cause diseases. It carries bacteria as it sits on dirty surfaces. When it sits on food kept open, the food gets contaminated. Consuming this food could cause diarrhoea,” says R. Surendran, director, department of gastrointestinal surgery, MIOT Hospital.

While keeping food covered at home is the best way to avoid such infections, doctors advise people to avoid eating food from roadside eateries. “Most often, food at these roadside outlets is kept open. Avoid eating fruits that are cut and sold on the roadside. Restaurants should take measures to keep their premises free from houseflies and could use repellents,” he added.

Doctors also said that fruits should be washed well before being consumed.

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