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Vector-borne Diseases in India

In News: The Union health ministry has sounded the alarm on a vector-borne disease outbreak with record rainfall in North India creating....

In News: The Union health ministry has sounded the alarm on a vector-borne disease outbreak with record rainfall in North India creating a favourable breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes. 

What is a Vector?
  • Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious pathogens between humans, or from animals to humans.
  • Bloodsucking insects ingest disease-causing microorganisms during a blood meal and transmit them to new hosts, spreading infections.
  • Once a vector becomes infectious, it can transmit the pathogen throughout its entire lifespan with each subsequent bite.
Vector-borne diseases in India
  • Vector-borne diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by vectors.
  • The burden of these diseases is highest in tropical and subtropical areas, and they disproportionately affect the poorest populations.
  • Since 2014major outbreaks of dengue, malaria, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika have afflicted populations, claimed lives, and overwhelmed health systems in many countries.
  • Other diseases such as Chikungunya, leishmaniasis and lymphatic filariasis cause chronic suffering, life-long morbidity, disability and occasional stigmatisation.
Factors responsible for the distribution of vector-borne diseases
  • These factors are determined by complex demographic, environmental and social factors.
  • Global travel and trade,unplanned urbanization and environmental challenges such as climate change can impact on pathogen transmission, making transmission season longer or more intense or causing diseases to emerge in countries where they were previously unknown.
  • Changes in agricultural practices due to variation in temperature and rainfall can affect the transmission of vector-borne diseases.
  • Urban slums without proper water supply and waste management increase the risk of mosquito-borne viral diseases in large populations.
  • Together, such factors influence the reach of vector populations and the transmission patterns of disease-causing pathogens.
Emerging Challenges 
  • Scientists warn that changing climatic conditions, including temperature and moisture variations, will increase the spread of vector-borne diseases in India.
  • Recent rise in respiratory viral infections, including H2N3, adenoviruses, and swine flu, causes growing concern in India.
  • The prospect of climate change leading to an increased burden with the spread of diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria looms large.
India’s Efforts 
  • Government provides support through guidelines, funding, monitoring, awareness campaigns, and collaboration with global organizations for disease control.
  • The Government of India has set targets to eliminate Malaria by 2030, Lymphatic Filariasis by 2030, and Kala-Azar by 2023.
  • Government advises states and UTs to collaborate with civic agencies and take prompt action against vector-borne diseases.
The Way Forward
  • Synergy: Government’s ASHA or community health workers in high-burden regions provide rapid testing and facilitate treatment for vector-borne diseases.
  • Negating drug resistance: Ensuring that medicines are given only to those who need it is important. Resistance to a drug arises from random treatment or incomplete courses, contributing to drug resistance development.
  • Tackling under-reporting: Capturing data about people being treated in private hospitals may be lacking. Mandating private sector reporting of malaria cases to the government can be a powerful measure.
  • Proactive surveillance system: Immediate reporting of the first cases and continuous monitoring is crucial to identify the source of outbreaks.All clinics and hospitals should report suspected cases of dengue or chikungunya to the authorities promptly.
  • Rapid response emergency vector control: Taking prompt action to spray and fog suspected breeding grounds is crucial in eradicating vector breeding places.
  • An awareness campaign to ensure that patients seek early hospitalization during an epidemic: People should be aware to seek treatment from hospitals with proper facilities for blood tests when dengue and chikungunya cases emerge.
  • Health personnel trainingHealth personnel should be given continuous training in the management and monitoring of dengue patients.
FAQs Related with Vector-borne Diseases in India
Ques 1: What are vector-borne diseases?

Answer: Infected vectors, such as mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas, transmit microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, or parasites to humans, causing vector-borne diseases.

Ques 2: What are some common vector-borne diseases in India?

Answer: Some common vector-borne diseases in India include malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis, and lymphatic filariasis. These diseases pose significant health challenges and are prevalent in various parts of the country.

Ques 3: What are the measures to prevent vector-borne diseases?

Answer: Preventive measures for vector-borne diseases: insect repellents, protective clothing, eliminating breeding sites, bed nets, sanitation, vaccines.

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