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On World Mosquito Day, we delve into various types of mosquito-borne diseases and how to stay protected – Dr. Mukesh Sanklecha, Consultant Paediatrician, Bombay Hospital

On World Mosquito Day, we delve into various types of mosquito-borne diseases and how to stay protected - Dr. Mukesh Sanklecha, Consultant Paediatrician, Bombay Hospital 1

Mosquitoes are that group of insects that are pretty much everywhere! In your house, outside your house- you can easily spot a mosquito. Dengue fever, malaria, arbovirus, encephalitis, chikungunya, zika fever- the list is pretty endless when it comes to listing down mosquito-borne diseases. There are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes, some of them quite deadly.While some of them prey on animal blood like birds, amphibians, reptiles, some mosquitoes bite humans. A single bite from Anopheles (a type of mosquito) can cause Malaria while Aedes (another type of mosquito) can cause diseases like dengue, chikungunya and zika virus. Notably, only female mosquitoes bite humans as they need the proteins in our blood for producing eggs.

The Health Management Information System (HMIS), a data dashboard of the National Health Mission (NHM), reported over 3.37 lakh cases of malaria and 1.30 lac dengue cases between April, 2020 to March, 2021 in India.Mosquito-borne diseases exert a huge economic burden on the countryas with all direct and indirect costs incurred due to medical expenses and loss of production & earnings. As per WHO estimates, the annual economic costs of malaria and dengue was pegged at INR 11640 crore and INR 6000 crore respectively. We have acknowledged these issues and the good part is we as a country have set a goal to be malaria-free country by 2030. While the government is doing its bit, every household can adopt measures to protect themselves from the mosquito menace.

Due to rains, there are a lot of places which have stagnant water, so the infection risk is really high during the season. One needs to ensure that the house and its surroundings are clean, safe and there are no breeding sites for mosquitoes around. While malaria mosquitoes breed over dirty stagnated water, dengue mosquitoes are found breeding on clean water. Hence, regular checks should be done at home, where pipes, water tanks and any neighbouring water storage area are checked and cleaned. Basic steps like wearing fully covered clothes, can really help minimize the risk of infection.

It’s important to note that mosquitoes are active throughout the day and not just in the evenings.The malaria causing mosquitoes are active from dusk to dawn, whereas dengue mosquitoes bite throughout the day. Hence, mosquito repellents can be used inside homes for continuous protection. There are advanced options like India’s most powerful liquid vapourisers – Goodknight Gold Flash. While heading outdoors, personal repellents are handy, as they come in various options like repellent skin creams, roll-ons etc. and are long lasting. Children should be given paediatrician-certified products as their skin is extra-sensitive. There are also a lot of fragrant options available in the market, to choose from.

Even a single mosquito bite can cause dengue or malaria. The most foolproof solution to protect yourself is to instantly kill these mosquitoes. There are trusted options like Kala HIT spray that instantly kills mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are not easily visible and hence one should spray under the bed, under the sofa, behind the curtains & cupboards where they tend to hide.In locations where electricity is an issue especially non-urban areas, sprays, mosquito nets and instant burning cards is a good way to create a safe space. Nets can be used on windows, doors and beds.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic places an extra burden on health systems worldwide. Countries like India, with fragile health systems, are facing a double challenge of addressing existing threats to public health, while fighting the new ones, such as COVID-19. In terms of the health aspect as well, there have been instances of overlap in symptoms of COVID-19 and mosquito-borne diseases which have made it imperative to differentiate diseases caused by mosquitos and the new virus. In case of symptoms like fever, body pain, headache, etc. it’s always better to get in touch with a doctor and get tested. Do not take it casually as some mosquito bites can be life-threatening.

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