The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has trained 28 officers to comb every nook and corner of the city for mosquito larvae. They are called insect collectors.
This exercise is done every year before monsoon to identify areas where varieties of mosquitoes that spread malaria are found in large numbers so that these areas can be fogged.The target is the anopheles mosquito that causes malaria.
“If we find more mosquitoes of the anopheles variety in an area then we will focus on fogging and anti-larvaecidal activity there,” said an officer from the BMC's Insecticide department. A total of 85,435 cases of malaria were recorded in the state in 2009 of which 39,659 cases were recorded in Mumbai. At least 180 people died due to malaria in Mumbai in 2009.
Since June 1, there have been 275 suspected cases of malaria and two people have died of the illness.
The samples these insect collectors gather will be tested at a laboratory created on the fourth floor of the BMC headquarters at Crawford Market.
Chief Insecticide Officer Dr Arun Bamne said that this exercise will help the BMC focus on areas with more larvae of the anopheles variety. “If samples from a particular area are of the anopheles kind, then the fogging activity will be increased in that area,” Bamne said.
BMC officials said this study will help the civic body find out if the strain has become resistant to the chemical used for fogging and changes can be made to make the exercise more effective.
The state government will provide these insect collectors with specialised kits in a month. These officers have to cover 10 spots every day. Five of these are among the nine high-risk zones identified by the BMC and five are random spots.
The high-risk spots have been identified on the basis of high incidence of positive malaria cases and areas where construction activity, and hence stagnant water, is more.
The nine high-risk wards include Lower Parel, Worli, Elphinstone, Parel, Sewri, Wadala, Byculla, Mahim, Matunga, Sion, Bandra (W), Khar (W), Santacruz (W), Andheri (E), Malad and Kurla.