Sting op: ‘Innocent’ mosquitoes bug Delhi

NEW DELHI: The of in keeping Delhi’s drains has left the city in the of a .

Residents are complaining about mosquitoes swarming in various localities. Worse, repellents fail to scare or kill them.

The only consolation is that these are Culex mosquitoes that don’t cause dengue or malaria, municipal health officer VK Hazarika told TOI. He confirmed that mosquito menace has intensified in the city over the last few weeks.

“The current weather condition is conducive for mosquito breeding. But more importantly, have not been cleaned properly in many places, thus providing them perfect breeding ground,” Hazarika said.

Culex breeds in dirty, stagnant water unlike Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — which transmit dengue and chikungunya — that breed in fresh, stagnant water.

Neena Valecha, director of Indian Council of Medical Research’s Institute of Malaria Research, said anti-larval sprays often prove less effective to kill mosquitoes breeding in the drains. “The only way to control mosquito menace is to keep the surroundings clean and not allow stagnation of water in the drains,” she said.

Hazarika said he has written to the heads of all civic agencies — PWD, CPWD and DJB, for example – to clear the drains to control mosquito breeding. “We are also issuing challans to households or under-construction buildings where there is heavy breeding,” he added.

Culex is a vector for a group of diseases that can be transmitted to humans. This includes filariasis and encephalitis that have a low prevalence in the capital.

“Culex is a nuisance. It bites persistently causing pain and itching. Over the years, I have observed they have become immune to most repellents. Nothing works on them anymore,” Nikhil Srivastava, a resident of Malviya Nagar said. Many people have been calling up civic bodies to intensify fumigation drives. But scientists say it’s just a temporary measure.

“Fogging is a temporary intervention. Civic agencies need to close the source, which is blocked drains,” said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-doc.

He added that once the mercury rises to 45 degrees Celsius and beyond, most breeding spots of the Culex mosquito would dry up.

But soon the monsoon season would follow. And, epidemiologists say, dengue and chikungunya may make a comeback in big numbers again. Already, 12 cases of dengue and three cases of chikungunya have been confirmed as on April 14. Malaria, which is spread by Anopheles mosquito, has affected at least three people.

“The authorities always wake up when the situation goes out of control. They need to start acting now to save the city from another outbreak situation this year,” said an expert.

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