Millennium Post

‘Certain Anopheles breed in clean water like Aedes'

Malaria has made a deadly comeback in Delhi with the Municipal Corporations reporting six deaths. Speaking to Millennium Post, National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR) Director Neena Valecha throws light on the recent spike in cases. Excerpts: 

How many cases of malaria in Delhi is officially registered at NIMR? 
There are two types of malaria — firstly normal malaria and secondly cerebral malaria. The latter is more deadly and often proves to be fatal. At NIMR, 93 cases of malaria and two cases of cerebral malaria have been reported so far. These both types of malaria are caused by Plasmodium, a type of microorganism.
Delhi is said to be having a cycle of fatal malaria cases. There are reports that the disease has broken this cycle and become more fatal this year. What has caused the change in the cycle? 

Yes, Delhi has a cycle of intensity and fatality of malaria. In addition, many patients belonging to other states are referred to Delhi in serious situations, who give a different picture. Furthermore, intensive immigration in the city from endemic states also contributes to number of cases in Delhi as migrants come here with the pathogens that are different. 

What makes Delhi vulnerable to malaria?
Besides immigration and referred cases, water storage practices, rapid urbanisation, construction activities, unplanned development of JJ clusters and unauthorised colonies also create favourable conditions for mosquitoes. 

How many types of mosquitoes spread malaria?  
There are six species of Anopheles mosquito which are major vectors of malaria in India. Similarly, there are five types of Plasmodium which cause these diseases but mainly two species are found prominently — P Falciparum and P Vivax. In small percent of cases, severe manifestations are seen. As diagnosis and treatment facilities have improved a lot, delay in treatment is one of the major reasons for deaths. 

Is it true that some malaria mosquitoes breed in fresh water like those of dengue mosquitoes? 
Yes, certain Anopheles breed in clean water along with Aedes. A malaria mosquito named Anopheles stephensi, which is mainly found in urban areas breeds in fresh water containers. 

Is NIMR working on any vaccine for malaria? 
So far there is no vaccine in the market but we are working on a vaccine which is in an advanced stage of clinical trials. The patients of malaria should not take medicines on their own but must consult a doctor as soon as they notice its symptoms. 
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