Malaria has claimed three lives in the city this month and more that 1,250 people have tested positive for the disease.
Doctors are surprised at the rise in the number of malaria cases, as they usually plummet in summer.
In April, at least 3,122 Mumbaiites tested positive and two people died of the disease. This is more than double the number of cases in April 2009, which saw 1,351 people diagnosed with malaria. In April 2008, only 790 people contracted the disease.
Transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes, a spurt in malaria is normal during the monsoon and post-monsoon period as mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
“When temperature crosses 40 deg C, it slows mosquito breeding. But the temperature in Mumbai is lower than that and the humidity level is high, so mosquitoes are continuing to breed,” said Dr Ashok Bhosale, state project director of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.
The maximum number of cases has been reported from central Mumbai — Lower Parel, Worli and Elphinstone Road. On Friday, 21 people who went to KEM Hospital’s Out Patient Department tested positive for malaria. “I am surprised to see so many malaria cases in the summer. We usually get two to six malaria cases a day,” said a resident doctor at KEM.
Civic officials believe the rise in construction activity is facilitating mosquito breeding. “Water stagnates or is left unattended on slabs at the construction sites and it allows for breeding,” said G.T. Ambe, BMC executive health officer.
The BMC used to fumigate construction sites but from May 1 the responsibility has been handed over to builders.