Chikungunya: WHO calls for the ‘net’ effect

Staff Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: Mosquito nets, especially those treated with insecticides like pyrethroids, have emerged as the cheapest and one of the most effective measures to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and chikungunya.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) last month issued new global guidance for the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets to protect people from malaria. For the first time, WHO recommends that insecticidal nets be long-lasting, and distributed either free or highly subsidised and used by all community members.

This recommendation was issued by the WHO following the impressive results reported from Kenya, where free mass distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets, was found to result in fewer cases of malaria.

Long-lasting nets

Insecticide-treated nets are mosquito nets treated with insecticides which repel, disable or kill the vector mosquitoes which transmit malaria.

Conventional insecticide treated mosquito nets need to be re-treated regularly, while long-lasting insecticidal nets are designed to be effective without re-treatment for the life of the net.

In Kerala too, distribution of mosquito nets was a strategy adopted by the public health machinery during the last chikungunya outbreak.

In 2006, when chikungunya surfaced in the State for the first time, the massive rate of disease transmission had taken the health authorities by surprise.

It was towards the fag end of the first outbreak that the authorities realised the usefulness of mosquito nets.

The strategy to bring down disease transmission is to protect the infected person by keeping him/her under insecticide-treated mosquito nets for the next five days

When the second outbreak of chikungunya came, all public health care institutions were supplied mosquito nets. All patients were advised to sleep under nets for the next five to seven days.

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