Even after being a relatively dry and humid state, Rajasthan has become favourable for mosquito-borne diseases including dengue, chikungunya and malaria. Till date, the state has registered more than 10,000 cases of mosquito-borne diseases and more than 2,000 cases of vector-borne diseases. The state lacks appropriate hygiene levels and has increasingly become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases. With more than 1,300 cases of dengue and malaria reported in Rajasthan till August 2019 – the state has witnessed an alarming rate of mosquito-borne diseases.
Some of the common mosquito-borne diseases in Rajasthan include:
Chikungunya: Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne, viral disease which is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The species of mosquitoes that are responsible for spreading the virus are known as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes bite an infected person and in turn become the carriers of the chikungunya virus, which is then further spread to every uninfected person who receives the mosquito bite. These mosquitoes generally bite during the day, though are found in well-lit areas even during the night time. The Aedes mosquitoes typically bite outdoor; however, Aedes aegypti can bite indoors too. This disease causes severe joint and muscle pain, fever and severe headache but is usually not fatal except for some rare cases. The symptoms of chikungunya begin to show post three to seven days of the mosquito bite, and except for joint pain, the other symptoms usually fade away within a few days. Chikungunya is generally not contagious, though in rare cases, it can be transmitted via contact with infected blood.
Dengue: Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease caused by four closely related viruses related, which spread through a particular species of mosquito known as Aedes. The Aedes mosquito transfers the virus into a human being by bite, thereafter the chain continues when a normal mosquito bites the dengue infected person, it becomes a carrier of the virus and it spreads further. The Aedes mosquito can breed inside or outside the house in containers that hold water for long, but they do not breed in pools, creeks or other water bodies. These mosquitoes do not have the capacity to fly more than 200 metres away from their place of birth. The Aedes Mosquito is most active during the early hours of the morning and before sunset. Dengue fever can cause serious health complications and in severe cases can be fatal, if not detected and treated on time. Dengue is extremely painful, debilitating and often causes high fever, along with headache and extreme muscle or joint pain. Sometimes, the symptoms are mild and hence, are considered to be indications of flu, fever or a normal infection. That said, dengue symptoms tend to appear after 4 to 7 days of the bite from the infected mosquito. However, usually a person tends to recover from dengue fever within a week but for cases, where the symptoms intensify – dengue fever can become life-threatening because of several reasons including leakage or damage in blood vessels and dropping of platelets. This stage of dengue fever is also known as dengue shock syndrome, where the patient would need immediate medical help.
Malaria: Malaria is a life-threatening, mosquito-borne disease which is caused by a parasite transmitted to humans via bites of infected mosquitoes belonging to the Anopheles species. The parasites that are responsible for spreading malaria are from the genus Plasmodium. Upon the bite of the mosquito, the parasites are released into the bloodstream from where they travel to the liver and mature. Post maturity, these parasites enter the blood and start infecting the red blood cells; then within 72 hours, these parasites multiply bursting the infected red blood cells. Simultaneously, these parasites continue to infect the red blood cells causing symptoms for Malaria that occur in cycles for about two to three days at a particular time. Malaria transfers to another person when an uninfected mosquito bites an infected person, and in turn, bites an uninfected person transmitting the parasite. Malaria can be transmitted by blood and hence, an organ transplant, transfusion or use of shared syringes can lead to a person being affected by Malaria. Malaria can also be passed on by the mother to the child upon giving birth. Symptoms of Malaria depend on case-to-case; whereas at a general level, the symptoms start to show within 10 days to 30 days after the infection. However, in some cases, the symptoms might not show for several months because of the parasite lying dormant in the body. Some common symptoms of Malaria include chills, high fever, excessive sweating, intense headache, nausea and vomiting.
That said, with the rise of these common mosquito-borne diseases in Rajasthan, The Government of the State has taken strict steps to control the spread and save more lives. Some of these steps include:
- Setting up control rooms and rapid response teams across the state
- Free blood tests to control the outbreak
- Carrying-out of anti-larval activities across the state
- House-to-house surveys to identify high-risk clusters and infected people
- Regular fogging
- Strict directions to doctors and hospitals to not neglect any suspected case of mosquito-borne disease
- Setting up of different OPDs to provide attentive and ready care
- Hospitals have been directed to stock up additional medicines and equipment
In February 2019, Rajasthan reported the highest number of dengue and malaria cases in the whole country. It recorded 555 dengue cases and 782 malaria cases since between January and August. The state has taken some strict measures to stop the widespread outbreak; however, the numbers still continue to rise.