Zoonotic diseases raise alarm in Bengaluru, experts say time for collaborative working

While unplanned vertical and horizontal growth has lead to rising cases, unplanned urbanisation is providing a conducive habitat for diseases.
For representational purposes
For representational purposesFile photo

BENGALURU: As cases of multiple zoonotic and vector borne diseases is rising, it has raised an alarm not just among government and health officials, but among experts alike who now point to the urgent need for collaborative approach across disciplines.

While unplanned vertical and horizontal growth has lead to rising cases, unplanned urbanisation is providing a conducive habitat for diseases.

Noted entomologist Akshay Kumar Chakravarthy explained if one closely sees there is rise in number of rodents, pigeons, Pariah Kite, monkeys and even insects. People are coming in constant contact with them. Improper garbage management is becoming their breeding centre. There has also been a reduction in buffer zones. The purpose of buffer zones has been lost. Congestion has also increased everywhere due to metro, buses, religious places, educational institutions, malls, apartments etc. Civic amenities and planning has not increased at the same pace, which is leading to rise in diseases.

He added that climate change and heat waves are not the only factors that have played a role in the multiplication of viruses and pathogens.

Experts and health officials also attribute the rise in cases to increased testing and surveillance. They also point to the need of the hour to check on preparedness in handling them. “This is the right time to take a look at the development pattern of cities, not just Bengaluru but the entire state. There is a need to conduct a per unit carrying capacity study. The growth, availability of facilities and planning need to be channelised now,” a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) member told The New Indian Express.

Dr M Shareef, TAC member added, cases of zoonotic diseases is rising and the fraternity is working on vaccinations and treatments. The government is also working on the treatment of leptospirosis and dengue.

Serving and retired officials also point to the need for a collaborative approach and carrying capacity assessment. Former Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Commissioner, K Jairaj said, Bengaluru is growing at a much rapid pace than expected. It is pertinent to now understand how much more the city can take and where growth should be channelised. Availability of basic facilities should also be planned in accordance.

Special Commissioner, BBMP, Health, Vikas Suralkar Kishore said efforts are on to increase medical and administrative staff for the rising population as it is the need of the hour. Citing the example of dengue, Kishore said, there has been an increase in cases because of the increased testing, intermittent rain and lack of hygiene. To address all this, there is a need for collaborative efforts.

Experts also pointed that it is time for a one health movement across multiple disciplines. Dr Giridhar Babu, noted epidemiologist said, nearly 70% of emerging infectious diseases originate from animals, underscoring the urgent need to focus on zoonotic diseases.

“Collaboration across disciplines such as animal and environmental health is crucial to predict and mitigate human health threats effectively. It is time to focus on the importance of the One Health movement to integrate efforts across multiple disciplines to protect the health of people, animals and the environment, necessitating a multidisciplinary approach and robust communication strategies for effective disease control and prevention,” he said.

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