Tuesday, Dec 17, 2002
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By M. Dinesh Varma
An eco-biological study on the vector population in the Corporation area has found that judging by WHO determinants to assess the prevalence of the Dengue vector mosquito in a locality, the three wards surveyed - Thycaud, Pettah and Valiathura - are highly Dengue-sensitive and high risk Dengue-prone areas.
The study stressed the need for periodic vector surveys and control measures to limit the density of the vector population. It also called for awareness programmes aimed at residential associations and local bodies.
Maya Mathew, Zoology lecturer at the Government Arts College, who conducted the UGC-sponsored study, said that the mild positivity of Dengue in the city could be attributed to the fact that the agents of infection were the `Aedes albopictus' rather than the `Aedes Agypti' genus of mosquitoes. Dengue transmitted by `Aedes Agypti' is more virulent and strikes in the pattern of an epidemic, she said.
According to Ms. Mathew, the peculiar breeding habits of the `Aedes' species made them the most adapted in an urban area like Thiruvananthapuram with its comparatively high use of non- biodegradable materials and homestead gardening culture. These mosquitoes, which bite during the day time, are known as `container-breeders' as they make habitats of fresh water in containers or flower pots in households. Intermittent rainfall and humidity are conducive for the vectors.
In the State capital, Health officials have launched a fogging and larvicidal operation with a three-month cycle as part of the measures to check the density of the vector population.
It is feared that Dengue infection could be presenting as persistent viral fever even as Health officials concede that the actual incidence of Dengue cases could be grossly under-reported as testing for Dengue has not been part of standard procedure because of the high costs involved.
According to the District Medical Officer, K. Shailaja, there has been a rising incidence of mildly positive Dengue cases at various hospitals in the city. So far, eight cases have been serologically confirmed as Dengue fever, health officials said.
In fact, the reporting of Dengue in the State in 1998 was accidental when several patients with unusual viral fever in Kottayam district tested positive in serological tests. Since then, sporadic incidence of Dengue has been reported in Ernakulam, Kannur, Malappuram, Idukki, Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.
``The current strategy is to target all mosquito-borne diseases as a single vector entity,'' said the Director of Health Services, V. K. Rajan.
Three mosquito-transmitted diseases - Dengue, Leptospirosis and Japanese Encephalitis - have been listed as "notifiable'' diseases. It is now mandatory on the part of treating physicians to report incidence of these diseases to the Health officials concerned. The measure is expected to strengthen disease surveillance mechanism for vector-borne diseases in the State, Dr. Rajan said.
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