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Malaria a bigger threat: Doctors

Swine flu may have put Mumbai behind masks, but you ought to be getting under mosquito nets instead. Malaria, transmitted by mosquito bites, killed 16 persons in Mumbai in the last 12 days alone. In the same period, two succumbed to swine flu.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2009 01:26 IST
Neha Bhayana

Swine flu may have put Mumbai behind masks, but you ought to be getting under mosquito nets instead.

Malaria, transmitted by mosquito bites, killed 16 persons in Mumbai in the last 12 days alone. In the same period, two succumbed to swine flu.

A look at civic health records proves that malaria is a bigger health menace. Over 1,730 Mumbaiites have been diagnosed with malaria in August and 4,380 tested positive for it in July. Around 122 tested positive for swine flu in the last three months.

The last major flu pandemic, in 1968, killed a million people. Malaria kills a million worldwide each year. “Malaria is an old tyrant, so people have forgotten it. They are putting on masks, but ignoring the puddles of water where mosquitoes breed,” said a civic official.

Doctors said the malaria is more rampant this year because of the irregular rainfall. “We’ve been treating at least eight children for malaria every day. Last year, we saw three to four cases per day,” said Dr Ira Shah, a paediatrician at Wadia Children’s Hospital, Parel.

At Mahim’s Hinduja Hospital, three patients, who suffered multiple organ failure due to malaria, are in intensive care.

“Earlier, we would see severe complications only in patients suffering from the falciparum strain of malaria, but now even the vivax strain is causing organ failure,” said Dr Khushrav Bajan, who heads emergency care at Hinduja Hospital.

Shah said resistance to chloroquine, used to treat malaria, had also become rampant.

Malaria is not the only cause for concern. Over 70 people go to hospitals every day due to gastroenteritis, caused by consuming contaminated water or food.