50% dip in dengue cases

Telangana’s figures for dengue and malaria cases from January 1 to August 30 this year is nearly 50% less compared to cases recorded during the corresponding duration in 2019.

In the first eight months of 2019, a total of 2,333 dengue and 1,140 malaria cases had been detected. This year, there were 1,177 dengue and 620 malaria cases for those eight months.

However, there is reason to be cautious as a sharp rise in dengue cases in the State last year was observed from September. The rising cases kept Health officials on toes for several months. As COVID-19 cases rise unabated, mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya were a major concern, especially after the onset of monsoon and the recent spell of heavy rain in various parts of the State. Mosquitoes, which carry parasites or viruses causing the vector-borne diseases, breed in stagnant water.

Close watch

Officials of the Health department said that along with COVID surveillance, they have been keeping a close watch on diseases spread by mosquitoes. “When ASHA workers conduct home-to-home surveillance, they enquire about dengue, malaria and other diseases besides COVID-19. Our staff also urged people not to allow water to stagnate in any container in and around their homes. This was to ensure there are no mosquito breeding sites. Besides, spraying and fogging operations were taken up during containment of COVID-19,” said officials.

In Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area too, the number of dengue cases is low. From January to August of 2019, 244 dengue cases were detected. The numbers for the corresponding months this year are only 152, which is 68% of last year’s figures.

Chief entomologist at GHMC, A. Rambabu said that suspected cases constitute a major share of the numbers. The suspected cases are from private hospitals which used rapid antigen tests instead of the recommended MAC-ELISA. Samples for MAC-ELISA are collected at all Basthi Dawakhanas and Primary Health Centres. Anti-larval operations were taken up from January 2020 when high number of dengue cases continued to be reported.

Water hyacinth

“As water hyacinth on lakes hinder anti-larval operations, which could lead to mosquito breeding, we took up a survey to identify the issue. Around 39 of the 185 lakes in GHMC have water hyacinth. Measures have been taken to address the issue. Drones are used to perform anti-larval operation on lakes,” Mr. Rambabu said.

Three teams with 50 workers headed by two assistant entomologists and two senior entomologists are dedicated to take up the operations around 21 km of Musi river which flows through GHMC.

Mr. Rambabu said since people are staying at home for most of the time, personal and environmental hygiene measures taken by people too has helped in keeping the numbers low. The officials said that the ‘10 minutes at 10 a.m.’ campaign every Sunday has helped as well. As part of this initiative, people were encouraged to devote 10 minutes to clear out stagnant water.

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Printable version | Oct 30, 2020 10:30:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/50-dip-in-dengue-cases/article32508663.ece

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