After Pune’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) confirmed the presence of Culex Tritaeniorhynchus -- mosquito which spreads Japanese Encephalitis (JE), the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said it would study the report and then take preventive measures.
Culex Tritaeniorhynchus is a type of mosquito responsible for the transmission of Japanese Encephalitis, an infection which damages the brain.
“This is the first reported case of JE in the city. We are yet to receive the NIV report and only after we study it, we can decide further preventive actions,” said Dr Mangala Gomare, chief of epidemiology cell, BMC.
After a nine-year-old Santacruz girl tested positive for JE in September, municipal health officials had claimed that the JE-spreading mosquito is not present in Mumbai.
However, with the NIV scientists finding the presence of the mosquito in Santacruz east, where the girl lives, doctors said JE infection has spread to Mumbai.
According to National Vector Borne Disease Control Program (NVBDCP), this year, 1,316 cases and 242 deaths from JE infection were recorded in the country.
Assam has reported the highest number of cases (756) and deaths (163) in the country, according to NVBDCP.
Doctors said the detection of the vector or carrier increases the possibility of transmission of the JE infection. “Though it is relatively uncommon infection, JE has a high morbidity and mortality. We have seen in the past that dengue and malaria transmitting mosquitoes have found new breeding spots because of urbanisation. Similarly, we should not overlook the possibility of transmission,” said Dr Pratit Samdani, physician, Breach Candy Hospital.
Dr Neelu Desai, the paedeiatric neurologist who treated the Santacruz girl, said that she has been treating patients with JE symptoms. “It is just that we must have not tested all patients for the infection. The laboratory test is not vital in most cases as the patient only needs symptomatic treatment,” she said.
Senior state health officials plan to ask BMC’s insecticide department to regularly collect and test Culex Tritaeniorhynchus mosquito and larvae. “It is better we prevent the possibility of an outbreak,” said an official.