C. Maya

Pre-epidemic management, awareness campaigns mooted

  • Concentration of Aedes species high in the coastal area
  • Garbage removal has helped reduce vector breeding

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The district health administration has stepped up vector-control activities as well as disease prevention programmes in the coastal areas and other areas identified as `high-risk' areas for infectious diseases as part of the National Vector-borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP).

    Intensive vector control activities, which were being carried out in a campaign mode in many parts of the district in the wake of the outbreak of chikungunya viral fever a few months ago, has already lost its momentum now that the threat perception has waned, officials said. After it stopped raining, there have been fewer cases of dengue and suspected chikungunya. But unless measures for epidemic preparedness are adopted in summer, infectious diseases could break out as soon as it starts raining again, they pointed out.

    WHO team

    Last week, a team of doctors and entomologists deputed by the WHO had visited Vizhinjam and adjoining areas, especially the Kottappuram colony from where a large number of chikungunya cases had been reported, to evaluate the implementation of NVBDCP.

    The five-member-team, headed by Michael Daniel of the WHO and B.K. Tyagi of the Centre for Research in Medical Entomology, a unit of Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), visited Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha district in the State. The team evaluated the current activities envisaged under NVBDCP so as to suggest modifications

    The team, accompanied by the Health Secretary, the Director of Health Services and other senor health department officials, visited CHC Vizhinjam too. They suggested that pre-epidemic management measures be put in place and intensive awareness campaigns be launched in the area to evoke behavioural changes in the community.

    It was pointed out that the coastal areas will continue to remain vulnerable to outbreaks of water-borne and vector-borne infectious diseases till the problem of scarcity of safe drinking water in the area is solved.

    The concentration of Aedes species of mosquitoes, which spread dengue and chikungunya fevers, has always been quite high in the coastal area. Even though it has not been raining, the breeding of these species continues to be high in Vizhinjam. Drinking water is supplied in tankers in the area by the authorities every two days and the storage containers in every household continue to be the permanent breeding sites for Aedes species.

    Even though the local people had been educated several times by health workers that water stored in houses should be emptied once a week and the containers scrubbed out, people are averse to throwing away the water for which they had paid money.

    A nine-member-team from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, headed by V.K. Raina, had also visited the district last month for conducting vector studies. They visited Kottappuram in Vizhinjam, Vattiyoorkavu, Kulasekharam, Sreekaryam, Karamana, Manacaud, Medical College, Kumarapuram and Peroorkada areas and found vector breeding to have reduced in most parts except Vizhinjam.

    Health officials also point out that the garbage removal project taken up by the Corporation and the Kudumbasree has helped a lot in reducing vector breeding as non-biodegradable garbage is being removed promptly. However, the programme has not been implemented in all wards.

    Meanwhile, scattered dengue cases continue to be reported from the district and about 30 per cent of these cases have been reported from the Corporation area. There have been 30 cases in the district in January.

    Last year, there were 656 cases of dengue in the district, while in 2005, there were about 512 cases. The actual number of cases could be higher as dengue is a self-limiting disease and confirmatory blood tests are done only in cases where either the fever persists or there are complications.