With the national Capital reeling under the never-like-before dengue epidemic with the number of positive cases almost close to 6,000, claiming more than 40 lives, the spread of the tentacles of the
vector-borne disease seems to have no end.
The magnitude of dengue in <g data-gr-id="75">2015,</g> has thrown a challenge to the ones in <g data-gr-id="74">authority</g> of controlling the disease. MCDs, state and Central governments and NGOs are battling hard against the viral but with little improvement. It is a common practice to blame the government and the civic bodies when such situations arise. However, if we sit back and for a moment stop our passive minds from entering into a blame game, we might realise that after all the ones in the authority, too, are human beings just like us. Being in <g data-gr-id="196">power</g> of controlling a state does not give one God-like <g data-gr-id="195">powers</g> to fight out ills.
Steps at individual levels are very important when diseases like dengue and malaria scare us to our wits. Shying away from the fact that these diseases are born out of negligence and blaming others will prove to be of no help. Like there are cures for dengue and malaria, there are a plethora of preventive measures that can be undertaken to nip the buds of the diseases even before they are ready to bloom.
Talking to <g data-gr-id="99">a MCD</g> doctor, on the condition of anonymity, two things came to light – negligence at individual levels and helplessness of the poor. Explaining the two the doctor said: “While inspecting a house for the location of the breeding ground of the Aedes mosquito, we often find that empty vessels are filled with water where the mosquitoes are happily breeding.” The doctor further explains that after rainfall, it becomes the first responsibility of a family to clean places where the rain water has accumulated. Often in the rooftops of a house are such waste where <g data-gr-id="101">rain water</g> accumulates and are stagnant. These are the mosquitoes’ “favourite” places to breed as the water is both fresh and stagnant.
Explaining the helplessness of some he said: “About 30-40 per cent of Delhi does not receive proper pipeline water from the DJB. These are generally the unauthorised colonies of Delhi. People in these colonies often store water for their need as DJB tankers are not regular in these areas. The moment they store, the Aedes happily breeds on the stagnant water.” But a very pertinent question arises here. The blind attitude towards hygiene and forceful commitment of mistakes is not new in Delhi. Then why is 2015 seeing such a huge rise in the number of cases?
Answering this question the doctor said the spread of vector-borne diseases often depend upon
climatic conditions. With more rainfall and increasing humidity, the condition is very conducive for mosquito breeding. “The more the heat and humidity, the more the scare of the spread,” said the doctor. This fact cannot be ruled out. If we consider MCD data, the year 2010, saw a total of 6,259 cases, with the highest temperature being recorded at 45 degrees Celsius, rainfall at an average of 14 hours a day during monsoon and humidity close to 90 per cent. In 2013, Delhi again saw a spurt in the number of cases with a total of 5,574 cases being recorded. That year the maximum temperature was recorded at 41 degrees Celsius, rainfall at an average of 11 hours a day during monsoon and humidity close to 92 per cent. In the year 2011, the city recorded only a total of 1,131 cases of dengue. Though the highest temperature was at 44 degrees Celsius, the humidity hovered around 80 <g data-gr-id="98">per cent</g> with a maximum rainfall of 10 hours a day.
Similarly, in 2014, a total of only 995 cases were recorded. Even in this year the highest temperature was as high as 46 degrees Celsius but the humidity was considerably low at around 75 <g data-gr-id="107">per cent</g> with a maximum rainfall of nine hours a day. Thus the fact that climatic conditions do have a bearing on the spread of dengue is quite evident from the data.
A common scene during the spread of such epidemic is fumigation. But does that really help? Dr Sanjeev Naiyar, a medical practitioner and Corporation councillor from Paschim Vihar area said: “There is an understanding that fogging/ fumigation activities kill adult mosquitoes but is not true at all. Rather than killing mosquitoes, it develops diseases in the people. It affects the respiratory system with breathing problem and lung infection.” Even the MCDs accept that fumigation does not help but under public pressure, for the psychological satisfaction of people, they are forced to infuse poison into the air.
In the anti-adult mosquito measure, a mixture of Pyrethrum, Malathion and Alphacypher is used through fogging/fumigation process. As it contains hazardous ingredients it affects the respiratory system of people. It proves extremely dangerous for old-age people, pregnant woman, children and ailing persons.
Environmentalists are of the view that fogging kills a lot of helpful insects which help in pollination and keeping harmful insects away. “In some countries, the use of Malathion is totally banned. Once it mixes in the air, it pollutes the air up to a certain level and in water it reduces the oxygen level which is very harmful,” said Manoj Mishra, an environmental activist. An MCD official, on condition of anonymity said: “Fumigation creates a layer of vacuum over water bodies thus preventing the mosquitoes from breeding but it really does not kill the mosquito. Rather, it disturbs the oxygen level of the water and affects the ecosystem of the water if it is a pond or a lake.”
As the famous American trial lawyer Louis Nizer had once said: “When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself,” every individual must first take up the preventive measures and then blame the ones in authority for the spread of diseases like dengue. We should not forget that everything we judge in others is something within ourselves we do not want to face.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are known to bite humans during the day and their most common breeding grounds are <g data-gr-id="270">man made</g> containers with stagnant water. Therefore, it is advisable to not have any stagnant water around your home. Remember to clean out empty flower pots and not to over water potted plants. If the container that contains water cannot be emptied, remember to cover it well when not in use.
Since your mother is already ill with dengue, try to not let mosquitoes bite her or others in the house.
Turn over empty pails and buckets, so that they do not collect excess water.
Use mosquito repellents regularly. Apply it well on all exposed areas, during the day as well as at night.
Make sure your window and door screens do not have any holes. If so, block those areas properly to eliminate mosquitoes.
Always sleep under a mosquito net.
If you use a cooler remember to empty out and clean the water tray regularly, even when not in use.
Always cover your trash can when not in use.
A natural method to keep mosquitoes at bay is to plant tulsi near your window. The plant has properties that do not allow mosquitoes to breed.
Using camphor as a repellent also works wonders. Light camphor in a room and close all the doors and windows. Leave it this way for about fifteen to twenty minutes to have a mosquito free environment.