Malaria, dengue surge as Mumbai battles COVID-19

This is a cause of concern with the city already seeing a spike in Covid infections.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Thursday, June 30, 2022, 08:45 AM IST
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Gastro-malaria cases on the rise in Mumbai | Photo by Pexels

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has witnessed a 66 per cent rise in Malaria and 50 per cent surge in Dengue cases in the last one week, with most of cases being recorded in South Mumbai and some parts of the eastern suburbs.

This is a cause of concern with the city already seeing a spike in Covid infections. According to the monsoon ailments data provided by the public health department, malaria cases have surged to 314 till June 26, as compared to 189 until June 19. Similarly, there were 22 dengue cases which have now increased to 33 till June 26.

Officials said all monsoon-related diseases are under control, but dengue cases are rising in the E ward (Reay Road and Madanpura areas) and S ward (Kannamwar Nagar and Tagore Nagar areas). BMC's executive health officer, Dr Mangala Gomare said since the virus outbreak, they have been on their toes to curb other illnesses, which have always taken a toll on Mumbaikars’ health.

According to Gomare, the civic body has been taking preventive measures and has created awareness amongst citizens about water-borne diseases while asking them to take extra precautions. “Though we had started preparations for water-borne diseases late, we can keep them under control. All efforts taken by the health and insecticide department have yielded good results. On a larger scale, we carried out our sanitation and fumigation work. We also oiled stagnant water to destroy breeding grounds of mosquitoes,” she said.

A senior doctor from a civic-run hospital said, “In my opinion, Covid is mostly coincidental. Also, malaria is caused by a parasite that attacks blood cells, whereas Covid is a viral infection and affects respiratory and endothelial cells. They really have no scientific reason for co-existence.”

Health experts believe that the numbers are still low as citizens have taken all necessary precautions during the ongoing pandemic. Else it would have further delayed diagnosis due to the similar symptoms displayed between Covid and seasonal infections.

However, the civic body is investigating further to know the exact reason for the increase in cases. As anupsurge of Covid cases is also being witnessed, healthcare workers are pressed to combat the pandemic along with monsoon ailments and the health infrastructure is often overstretched.

As the mosquitoborne diseases have similar symptoms to Covid – like fever, cough, weakness and fatigue – doctors have to be extra cautious to avoid any misdiagnosis.

“It is a difficult task to distinguish between the two, especially when cases of both are rising simultaneously. Having said that,there are some signs and symptoms – high-grade fever, severe body ache, rashes and low platelet count – that can give us some information as these are seen more prominently incases of malaria and dengue,” said a doctor.

Dr Rahul Tambe, senior consultant, internal medicine, said, “The definitive way is to correctly identify the underlying infection. Hence it is important that proper diagnosis is done for Covid patients as well as malaria patients immediately upon arrival. People are advised to take all precautions and report symptoms as soon as they occur in order to not delay treatment.”

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