‘Combatting dengue is the biggest challenge faced by BMC during monsoon’

With monsoon being just around the corner My Medical Mantra exclusively spoke to Dr Padmaja Keskar, BMC's Executive Health Officer, where she admitted that combating dengue is the biggest challenge faced by the BMC

These days Mumbai is occasionally enjoying pre-monsoon showers but once the monsoon arrives it turns into a health menace for the citizens. Every year the city witnesses a number of deaths related to dengue, malaria and Chikungunya. The mosquito is the common factor in these vector borne diseases. The epidemic of waterborne diseases also put a huge burden on healthcare system. My Medical Mantra exclusively spoke to Dr Padmaja Keskar, Executive Health Officer, BMC.

'Combatting dengue is the biggest challenge faced by BMC during monsoon'
Dr Padmaja Keskar, Executive Health Officer, BMC

The monsoon is on its way. What sort of preventive measures are taken by BMC to avoid epidemic?

We start our preparations from March. We have had meeting with state government and other land owning authorities such as railways (who control large amount of land) to discuss preventive measures to stop mosquito breeding. We are also reviewing the preparations regularly. Also in every way possible we are urging people to not let create mosquito breeding sites in their homes and surrounding area.

Which disease is considered as a biggest challenge to handle in monsoon?

It has to be dengue. In 2016 total 1180 cases of dengue had been reported and this year since Jan 116 cases of dengue have been reported so far. In May only 31 cases have been reported. We constantly try to make people aware about adopting preventive measures to save themselves from it. Dengue is spread through Aedes aegypti mosquitos which have life cycle of 6-8 days and they can breed even in the smallest collection of clean water. Once these mosquitos can fly they become carriers for dengue, malaria and other diseases. So it’s necessary to take precaution on household level. As an administrative body we are doing our part.

Aedes aegypti mosquito are also carriers of Zika virus. Recently few cases of Zika have been identified in Gujarat. Is Mumbai susceptible to Zika epidemic?

I don’t see any such threat. If a person is infected with Zika then he will have flu. This flu is like general flu. It will not be even detected that it was caused due to Zika virus. It is more harmful for pregnant women. So they have to take special precaution. Simplest way is to destroy mosquito breeding sites. Homes which have residing pregnant women should take extra efforts. Also, if a pregnant woman has a minor fever, it should be immediately reported to the doctors and proper check-up should be done.

What message would you like to give to Mumbaikars before the city preps up for monsoon?

I urge people to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Also do not let mosquito breed in your surroundings. Follow the guidelines given by authorities. It is important to maintain personal hygiene in order prevent waterborne diseases such as gastro. Wash your hands before eating anything. Avoid consuming street food. This is the month of Ramzan. Many fruit stalls are visible during this month. Make sure that chopped fruits are properly covered.