Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 15 June 2024 4.25 PM IST

Health Department declares high alert as west nile fever confirmed in Kerala


We know that mosquitoes are not minor villains in the list of disease-carrying organisms or insects. Mosquitoes play the role of vectors in various deadly infectious diseases, including malaria, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Following the confirmation of mosquito-borne West Nile fever in three districts of the state, the health department has declared a high alert in all districts. Currently, the disease has been confirmed in Kozhikode, Malappuram, and Thrissur districts. Although the first case of West Nile fever was confirmed in the state in 2011, no deaths due to it have been reported in Kerala. However, health experts warn that in 10 percent of those who become ill, it may lead to life-threatening conditions.

As no vaccine or effective medicine has yet been developed against West Nile fever, the only prevention currently is mosquito repellent and avoiding mosquito bites. In a state where pre-monsoon sanitation and waste management are not very effective, that is the major challenge in building mosquito resistance. Not even a single bottle of water is needed for hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes to breed! It should be remembered how great the threat created by these in situations where garbage piles are increasing all over the country and the flow is blocked in the drains that are filled with rain, the water is stagnant for days, and the containers that are left unused in the houses, terraces, etc.

Now, the mosquito problem is slightly less because during the hot summer, all the places are dry, and there is no breeding ground for mosquitoes. Meteorologists predict that summer rain will fall within two days. It will continue for years. In most districts of the state, roads are cut and dug as part of road development works and for maintenance. There is no sign of these works being completed before the rainy season. When it starts raining, all these places become waterlogged, and mosquitoes swarm. As for the pre-monsoon cleaning, which should be done under the responsibility of the local bodies, it has not started anywhere even in name. Although the Minister of the Department has directed the District Medical Officers to ensure the destruction of the source of mosquitoes, it is the responsibility of the local department to carry it out.

Many local bodies are unable to carry out even emergency sanitation activities such as garbage disposal and pre-monsoon sanitation due to a lack of funds. This means that there is effective coordination and mutual understanding between the health and local departments in this regard. Mosquito extermination and sanitation work cannot be postponed by insisting that funds come in and work can be done. Considering the situation where West Nile fever was confirmed in three districts just before the rains, the government should also consider allocating money to the local department for pre-monsoon cleaning. There should not be a situation where departments blame each other and waste valuable time in this regard. Don't forget that environmental cleaning, yard cleaning, and household waste disposal are everyone's responsibility.

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