Thursday, May 28, 2009

Malaria thrives in cities - Bangalore - Cities - The Times of India

Malaria thrives in cities - Bangalore - Cities - The Times of India
Contrary to the belief that malaria is common in rural areas, at least three to four cities in the state are showing up strong signs
of the disease.

Among these, Mangalore reported the highest number of cases -- 1,088 in the last three months, followed by Bellary with 30 cases and Hospet with 11 cases. Last year was worse -- Mangalore reported 5,801 cases. The disease has been reported in Raichur and Gulbarga too, apart from pockets in Dakshina Kannada.

Bangalore, interestingly, has not been afflicted. Dr S K Ghosh from the National Institute of Malaria Research observes: "The geographic location of Bangalore is an advantage. The city is 920 m above sea level, whereas mosquito transmission occurs below 200 m, so occurrence of malaria is rare here. Even the climate, with low humidity, prevents the survival of the vector population here."

Mangalore is 22 m above sea level and its climatic conditions favour vector-borne diseases. The rapid rise in development work and stagnant water
at construction sites in urban areas have also led to a rise in the incidence of malaria in Mangalore.

In Bellary, severe shortage of water supply is the cause. Dr Ghosh points out: "Tap pits which are below ground level are the main cause of all vector-borne diseases, including malaria. It is surprising that urban development authorities have not prevented construction of these tap pits."

The state's city corporations and town municipal councils say they face a severe shortage of health staff, owing to which they have been unable to efficiently monitor public hygiene and prevent the rise of contagious diseases in cities like Mangalore and Bellary.

The state health department, however, acted quickly, holding a meeting of corporation and municipal authorities of 12 cities/towns to outline strategies to counter contagious diseases.

Over the last decade, the incidence of malaria in rural areas has declined. While 15 years ago, the state accounted for 7-10% of malaria incidence in the country, presently less than 1.5% of malaria cases are from the state, Ghosh said. Until March this year, there have been 1,129 malaria cases.

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