Official statistics reveal that positive cases of dengue in the city have increased from 373 on July 27 to 599 on October 5, but households in Bangalore are still to do their bit in curbing the menace. Even officials state that with the fluctuating weather conditions and hardly any knowledge among residents about water storage and rain water harvesting methods, it has been lately causing an increase in the incidence of this disease.
Open overhead tanks apart from open drains and stored water in residential areas have been identified as the main cause for dengue. Says Dr P.K. Srinivas, former lead consultant with the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services, “20 years back, there was never any case of dengue in Bangalore. It began some time in 1994, when the phenomena started claiming several lives. So, it is a fairly recent phenomenon caused by a peculiar kind of mosquito which is domestic and peri-domestic. The reason for the spread of dengue is shortage of water because of which people have started storing water. Previously, people used hand pumps, but now after the laying of pipelines and random installation of overhead tanks, open storage of water is being widely followed which is due to sheer necessity.”
In addition to this, the climate is boosting the breeding of mosquitoes, but it is also conducive to the influenza ‘A’ H1N1 virus. Some cases of malaria and chikungunya have also been reported. “The chill in the weather, irregular rains and water stagnation are causing a lot of diseases and it is not just restricted to dengue, but other forms like bronchitis and viral flu,” says Dr V L Pai from Geetha Diagnostic Centre near Vasanth Nagar.
Most of the breeding happens in fresh water stored in overhead tanks, water accumulated at construction sites and in the periphery of lakes. “BBMP has been doing its bit but the onus is mainly on people who should try and ensure water does not stagnate and also cover overhead tanks. People should also avoid ornamental plants inside their homes,” says Dr Srinivas.
He also asserts the need for a proper mosquito survey which will enable authorities to identify the source of breeding grounds and go for its destruction. “It is difficult to state if there has been an increase or decrease in the number of dengue cases in the city. Detection is more these days and every laboratory is undertaking dengue tests and as a result, prevalence of the disease has increased manifold.”
While Bangaloreans need to be more cautious about water storage methods, Dr Srinivas also states that the frequent transfers of responsible officials dealing with dengue and its affects also hamper proper control. “Those who are experts have either been transferred or have retired or quit. They should be retained and a plan needs to be worked out in a proper manner,” he concludes.