Most common mosquito-borne disease in West Bengal

West Bengal – a state in the eastern region of India, along the Bay of Bengal is known for its different ethnicities, cultures, traditions, people, stunning landscapes, lush forests and coastal beauty. However, the state is also a high breeding ground for mosquito-borne diseases or also called vector-borne diseases. Over the last few years, the state has recorded significantly very high cases of dengue. In 2019 alone, the capital of the state – Kolkata recorded 160 positive cases of dengue. In 2018, the mosquito-borne disease claimed more than 30 deaths in Kolkata. With the rising menace of mosquito-borne diseases in West Bengal, the Government of the State has taken strict actions and introduced various reforms to minimize the number of people affected by these diseases.

Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne disease in West Bengal. It is caused by four different but closely related viruses, spread by the Aedes mosquitoes. The Aedes mosquito breeds in containers holding water for long inside or outside the house and spreads the virus by biting a human. Thereafter, when a normal mosquito bites a human infected with the dengue virus, the mosquito catches the virus which is then spread to another human that receives the bite. The Dengue mosquito is very active during the day time, especially during early mornings and evenings. The mosquito cannot fly farther than 200 metres from their origin and does not breed in pools, creeks, or other water bodies.

Dengue Fever is also called breakbone fever and is often painful and unbearable. The symptoms of dengue usually tend to show 4 to 7 days later after being bitten by the infected mosquito; these symptoms last up to 3-7 days and can be easily treated and managed provided it is detected timely and adequate medical help is received.

Some of the major symptoms that can help identify dengue are:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Intense headache
  • Pain in the eye-forehead portion
  • Severe pain in joints and muscles
  • Acute weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rashes on the skin
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea

Oftentimes, dengue fever symptoms could be mistaken with those of viral fever, infection or flu. That said, in severe and rare cases of dengue infection, some serious problems might appear such as damage to the lymph and blood vessels caused by dengue hemorrhagic fever; bleeding from the nose and gums; liver enlargement; and circulatory system failure. These rare symptoms, when intensify can cause shock and death also referred to as the dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

Situation in West Bengal

As of November 11, 2019, the number of dengue cases registered crossed 44,000 which is almost double the figures reported a fortnight before. The most severely affected city is the capital of the state – Kolkata with some regions on an alarming high including North and South 24 Parganas, apart from Tiljala, Picnic Garden, Parnasree, Santoshpur, Survey Park and Jadavpur. The state has also a very high record of deaths from the dengue virus. The State Government has issued guidelines, introduced preventive steps and taken strict actions to stop the breeding of mosquitoes and prevent the spreading of the disease.

Steps taken by the State Government

The Government of West Bengal has sought to follow an intersectional approach to fight the widespread disease in the state. This approach is based on collective efforts across departments to contain the mosquito-borne disease from spreading further.

Major activities required to control the disease have been initiated such as: 

House to House Visits to create awareness among people about the disease and its prevention 

Vector Control Activity including:

  • Larvicidal spray
  • Conservancy works
  • Fogging
  • Clearing of hyacinth
  • Cleaning of school premises at the beginning and end of a vacation
  • Management of waterlogging
  • Cleaning of canals and banks 

Case Management including:

  • Increase of laboratory facility at UPHC/ municipality hospitals
  • Guidance to fever cases and quick management and referral of cases
  • Financial support
  • Awareness among students 

Emergency Response Management including:

  • Case Management
  • Door-to-Door Surveillance
  • Landfilling management
  • Drainage of stagnant water
  • Cleaning of natural water bodies
  • Management of construction sites
  • DEET Sprays
  • Fogging
  • Enforcement of building laws
  • Financial support
  • Augmentation of diagnostic facilities
  • Arranging laboratory back-up
  • Forming a rapid response team
  • Medical camps
  • Technical support for vector control
  • Disinfection of water source
  • Supply of safe drinking water 

Awareness Generation through:

  • Hoardings, flex, leaflets, rallies, local cable, LED displays, etc.
  • Advertisement in newspaper, radio, etc.

Additionally, regular follow-up meetings are conducted to take analyze the current situation and modify countering strategies. As of now, due to lack of vaccination or dedicated treatment for dengue, the only way to stop the spreading of this mosquito-borne disease – in West Bengal and in India overall – is to create awareness among people and prevent them from infected mosquito bites.