Sunday, September 18, 2016

Recurring problem in Delhi - Chikungunya, dengue, malaria - When will we learn our lesson

Each year during rainy season and weeks after it, Delhi turns into a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Umpteenth people get affected and hospitals get swarmed with chikungunya, dengue and malaria patients. The problem is that these mosquito-borne diseases are difficult to diagnose, given the similar symptoms they have with fever being a prominent part.

If these key differences are not detected and treated on time, the diseases could definitely prove hazardous.

This disease is caused by the transmission of plasmodium — a parasitic protozoa — into the body’s system. There are two types of plasmodium species that are common in India — Vivax and Falciparum, which are transmitted into the human bodies through the spit of Anopheles mosquitoes. The Anopheles mosquitoes bite usually during the day.

The most common symptom of Malaria is high-grade fever. But, the fever does not stay at a stretch and is intermittent i.e. comes over a period of two-three days. The fever is accompanied with chills and rigor. In severe cases, the patient suffers from constipation, disorientation (in the case of cerebral malaria) and kidney dysfunction.

This viral disease is transmitted to human bodies through the bite of female Aedes mosquitoes and from an infected human to another, in cases of blood transfusion. The dengue causing mosquitoes usually bite during the night.

The patient suffers from fever for the initial three-four days, followed by body pain. Retro-orbital pain ie. pain behind the eyes is also common. In acute cases, decreased urine output, respiratory difficulties and increased bleeding tendencies also accompany the usual symptoms.

Chikungunya is caused by the same female Aedes mosquitoes that cause dengue. This ailment mostly affects the muscle cells of the body.

The prominent symptoms of Chikungunya include excessive body pain or myalgia, swelling in the joints and rashes across the body. The body pain, in this case is more severe than that in dengue cases.

In chikungunya, joints pain is more pronounced, while in cases of dengue, patients might even feel retro-orbital pain, that is, pain behind the eyes. Other than this, the symptoms for both mosquito-borne diseases are the same.


While for Malaria, anti-malarial drugs like chloroquine and artemisinin are available, dengue and chikungunya are viral diseases and do not have treatment drugs as such. The treatment for dengue and chikungunya is symptomatic and therefore, doctors wait for the symptoms to become evident in the body.

Chikungunya and dengue patients are given paracetamol for the fever to subside, but not in the first three days. Since both the diseases have similar symptoms, giving any kind of medicines, including painkillers in the first two-three days is fatal. It could lead to bleeding, in some cases. The patients are prone to dehydration and therefore, are advised to increase their intake of fluids.

Some of the prevention method that people can take are using the good old mosquito nets during night. One of the key things is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes because there are no medical ways or vaccines to avoid prevention of these diseases. Wear clothes that cover you fully and apply mosquito-repellent creams. As a community, to prevent such diseases, ensure that there is no water stagnation in the surroundings, because they become excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Also, make sure that your living area and surroundings are hygienic and clean. Change the water in room coolers at least once a week.


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