In 1895, Sir Ronald Ross from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine returned to India to prove that mosquitoes are related to malaria propagation. At that time, the Indian Medical Service (IMS) decided to halt his work and move him to a malaria-free area in Rajasthan. Ronald Ross was ready to present his resignation. But his associates helped him continue his quest by persuading the IMS to appoint him on special duty of investigating malaria and kala-azar.
Then, on August 20, 1897, in Secunderabad, Ronald Ross made a milestone discovery that the Anopheles mosquitoes are indeed responsible for transmitting the life-threatening Malaria parasite in humans. He even received a Nobel Prize in Medicine for the work.
Since that year, the world observes Mosquito Day on August 20, intending to spread more awareness, make the general public alert at large, and recognise the healthcare workers’ efforts. This year in 2021, the theme for the day is to ‘reach the zero malaria target.’ Mosquitoes may seem tiny and insignificant, but they are one of the deadliest animals threatening human existence.
With the monsoon season, we also see a rise in the menace caused by mosquitoes. These organisms act as the vector responsible for the transmission of diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika JE Japanese Ensephalitis , virus, etc.
Symptoms of some vector-borne diseases to look out for:
|High fever-Once a day -complete remission between spikes||High fever, fatigue||Fever|
|Chills and sweating||Sweating||Chills|
|Muscle pain||Abdominal, eye, joint, and muscle pain||Joint and muscle pain|
|Diarrhoea||Loss of appetite, weakness||Persistent joint pain & swelling|
|Nausea or vomiting||Nausea or vomiting||Fatigue|
|Mental confusion and paleness||Rash or red spots, Hypertension||Skin rash|
In the case of pregnant women, the zika virus causes a congenital disability in the unborn child known as microcephaly (due to abnormal brain development, the baby’s head is significantly smaller).
A small puddle of stagnant water, open dirty or clogged gutters, air condition drip trays, old tyres, trash baskets, birdbaths, unclean swimming pools can form the perfect environment for mosquitoes to breed.
Mosquito-borne ailments are often treatable and preventable with proper precautions. Some ways to prevent the diseases are:
- Keeping your home and surroundings clean, and free from stagnant water
- You can use garlic spray or burn camphor indoors to keep mosquitoes away
- Use a repellant and wear full-sleeved clothes, especially if you are travelling to a mosquito-infested area
- Use mosquito nets
- Maintain proper hygiene and consume fresh homecooked food
It is best to receive a medical consult from a physician if any symptoms arise. Delay and indulging in self-medication will only lead to further complications. With proper investment in public health and hygiene, we can avoid most vector-borne diseases. Propagating awareness and making individuals of a vicinity conscious of cleanliness can genuinely help eradicate these health hazards.
-Dr Prof Dibyendu Mukherjee, Internal medicine and Rheumatologist, Fortis Anandpur Kolkata