Climate change gives vector-borne diseases a shot in arm   

Vector-borne diseases have proved to be a major public health challenge for Odisha. Be it malaria, dengue or the dreaded Japanese Encephalitis (JE), their erratic outbreak and spurt in incidence 

Published: 24th December 2016 02:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th December 2016 05:51 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Vector-borne diseases have proved to be a major public health challenge for Odisha. Be it malaria, dengue or the dreaded Japanese Encephalitis (JE), their erratic outbreak and spurt in incidence have baffled the Health Department.

Despite all the control measures that the State Government has undertaken, malaria incidence has jumped sharply over the years. From 2.62 lakh positive cases reported in 2012, the number has risen to 4.12 lakh by November-end this year.

The seasonal transmission of the fever has left the Health Department surprised. In July 2012, the State reported 29,926 positive cases. The number this year stood at a whopping 77,461. While the transmission in the pre-monsoon months has seen a slow rise, post-monsoon, the figures have gone upward sharply.

At the recent convention on tropical meteorology and climate variability in coastal regions, TROPMET-2016, Joint Director, Health Services (NVBDCP) Dr MM Pradhan and Dr Mithun Karmakar of National Health Mission (NHM) presented a paper which pointed out that the incidence of vector-borne diseases is being influenced by climate change.

While rainfall, temperature and humidity have a direct bearing on the outbreak and severity, endemicity of the diseases varies from region to region because it is dependent on climate, the paper stated. 

Currently, at least 24 million people living in 22 high-endemic districts of the State are at the risk of malaria. The whole region covering southern Odisha, spine of the State and northern districts are under grip of malaria

Despite increased intervention, the State continues to contribute 38 per cent of the case load and 28 per cent deaths occurring in India. About 90 per cent of the total infections are by Plasmodium falciparum.
Dengue, another such disease, has expanded its tentacles in the State over the last five years. From just 1,846 cases and 33 deaths in 2011, the transmission figure reached 8,354 in 2016 when 11 persons died. Interestingly, dengue outbreak is not confined to a particular region unlike malaria and keeps changing its hunting ground.

The killer Japanese Encephalitis has shown a similar pattern. The disease, which claimed lives of over 130 children this year alone, was confined to just Jajpur, Puri and Balasore in 2011. By now, it has spread to Bargah, Mayurbhanj, Ganjam, Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Khurda, Sonepur, Sundargarh, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar and Nayagarh.

Pradhan said containment measures require a collaborative studies that must include meteorological, vector, health and veterinary agencies. Situation analysis and micro-stratification of vulnerable areas as per climate variation must be carried out. The impact of climatic factors on vectors, parasites and viruses must be assessed and risk maps as well as warning systems should be developed.

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