Vector-borne diseases have been a major health burden for a developing country like India. Inadequate containment of the vectors has resulted in recurrent outbreaks and re-emergence of these diseases. The growth in population has been the major cause for changes in the environment like deforestation, agricultural land use, and animal husbandry practice changes. These changes over a period of time have contributed majorly to the increased recurring vector-borne diseases, which are mainly caused by parasites, viruses, and bacteria that are transmitted to man by vectors.

The epidemic process relies to a great extent on the availability of suitable environmental and climatic conditions. As the monsoons are approaching, a surge in vector-borne diseases will be seen. There will be continuous rains leading to water getting logged in pits and drains for days along with prolonged low temperatures, which in turn provide ambient temperature for the insects like mosquitoes and flies to breed at places of stagnant water pits, which can cause dengue and malaria.

Vector borne diseases prevalent in India

The important vector-borne diseases prevalent in India include malaria, dengue, chikungunya, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, kala-azar and scrub typhus. Mostly these diseases occur by the bites of the infected vectors. Mosquitoes are the most common vectors.

Malaria is transmitted when an infected Anopheles mosquito bites. Young children, pregnant women, people living with HIV are at high risk of getting affected.

Dengue fever is caused by the Dengue virus, transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. The Aedes breed in the freshwater pools and mostly in man-made containers. Individuals who are previously infected by dengue are more likely to experience a severe form of the disease if re-infected. The cases of dengue usually peak in the months of July-December.

Chikungunya is a viral disease caused by Chikungunya virus, and transmitted by the tigered mosquito, Aedes.

Japanese encephalitis virus is transmitted through infected Culex mosquitoes to humans.

Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, occurs when threadlike, filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. The microscopic parasitic worms then lodge in the lymphatic system and disrupt the immune system.

Leishmaniasis (Kala-azar) has three main forms– visceral (known as kala-azar), cutaneous (the most common) and mucocutaneous.

Scrub typhus is caused by bacteria (Orientia tsutsugamushi), and spread by bite of infected chiggers (larvae of mites).

Monsoons could spark rise in vector borne diseases 

The monsoons in Telangana along with heavy rains will leave the health system overburdened with a mix of vector borne diseases and the surge of the second wave of COVID-19 along with black fungus cases. With the arrival of the second wave of Covid-19, the population needs to realise that this pandemic can have some dangerous consequences, as this wave is mainly affecting people with low immunity. People need to be aware of their surroundings along with educating each other regarding the present second wave and how a third wave needs to be avoided. This is a time when the cases of vector-borne diseases can become rampant and neglecting the preventive control measures can lead to a spike in the numbers, and hospitalization at such times can cause more problems and create havoc in society.

There should be increased preparedness to tackle the outbreaks of such vector-borne diseases during the pandemic of COVID-19. Any kind of illness needs to be handled properly and promptly as the fungus is on the rise and can even occur in a non-covid patient and those with high blood sugars. The vector control efforts should be in place as it is important that the COVID-19 response does not increase the vector-borne disease threats in the communities already stricken hard by the COVID-19.

Prevention of vector-borne diseases

Prevention can be done by maintaining neat and clean surroundings, by cleaning blocked drains, avoiding water logging, emptying stagnant water bodies (water accumulated in old tyres, pots and pans, coolers, small puddles at construction sites), keeping water tanks and containers tightly covered, pouring oil over the water sources, introduction of larva eating fish into the water bodies to reduce mosquito breeding. Certain prevention strategies can reverse the trend of recurrence, such as research on vaccines, usage of environmentally safe insecticides, alternative approaches for vector control and continuous training programs for health care workers is needed.

Being aware of the symptoms and presentation of the vector-borne diseases, and their early identification is essential for their timely management, since an unprecedented delay in recognition can create adverse outcomes in individuals who may already be affected by Covid or may be harbouring the disease simultaneously.

 The article is contributed by Dr. Monalisa Sahu, Consultant Infectious Diseases, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.


This post first appeared on The Health Site

The post Threats of vector-borne diseases loom large amidst COVID-19 pandemic appeared first on Sound Health and Lasting Wealth.

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