Malaria bigger threat than flu in India

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Malaria bigger threat than flu in India

Malaria bigger threat than flu
the vivax strain can no longer be called milder, say experts
Sumitra Deb Roy

As the city grapples with the latest threat in the form of the H1N1 influenza virus, health specialists continue to be concerned about the growing number of malaria cases. Experts say the strain this year is more virulent compared to last year’s and has killed more people than it ever did before.

The vivax strain of malaria has killed 27 people in this month itself, which is more than three times the number of swine flu casualties in the city. In the last 24 hours, two more people died of malaria. A 21-year-old man from Malad died of vivax malaria while a 65-year-old man from Indira Nagar near Jacob Circle died of mixed malaria.

Dr Khusrav Bhajan, a critical care specialist of Hinduja Hospital, said that this year the incidence and virulence of malaria cases are at least 30% higher. He said the vivax strain may no longer be called the milder strain. Many people are coming in with multiple-organ failure, chest complications, and even renal failure, he said. The hospital has lost at least two patients owing to complications arising from malaria, the specialist said.

The BMC, however, is not alarmed. The corporation’s malaria surveillance in-charge, Dr Kishore Harugoli, said that in August, around 62,289 people got tested for malaria. “But only about 3,695 people tested positive.” According to Dr Harugoli, these numbers are not starkly different from last year.

Incidentally, dengue caused by mosquitoes has been less dangerous this year. About five people have lost their lives and a few others were found to be affected by it. But, though dengue and malaria are spread by mosquitoes, the types of mosquitoes are different and so are the symptoms of the ailments.

Dr Kanjaksha Ghosh, director of the Institute of Immuno-haematology at Parel, said there is a possibility that the same strain of dengue has returned this monsoon. “If the strain is the same as last year, people develop immunity and there are fewer casualties,” he said. So far, the city has lost 57 lives to monsoon-related ailments.

Richard Buckminister Fuller, U.S. Engineer and Architect, “Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value”