MANGALORE Sept 8: Health officials identified 830 cases of malaria infection within the city corporation limits in last month. In addition, 71 cases of affliction have been reported from rural areas. This is said to be the highest number of cases recorded in the district this year.District health officer H. Jagannath said that the rural-urban divide was a historical feature of the district.
"The urban centres are always ahead of rural areas in the prevalence of the disease because there are more sources for mosquito breeding in the city. The female Anopheles mosquito thrives on filthy conditions," he said.
He said that 7,976 blood samples were collected from within the corporation limits, compared to over 18,000 collected in the rural areas. "It cannot be concluded that the cases reported from rural areas are less because our diagnostic machinery is lacking," he said, in response to a query.
A majority of the malaria cases identified in the city had been caused by the less deadly parasite Plasmodium viviax (PV).
Only 99 of the recorded cases were caused by the more dangerous parasite, Plasmodium falciparum (P.F). Dr. H. Jagannath said that there were no malaria-related deaths in the district, so far.
The incidence of the disease this year was less compared to the same period of last year. In August 2007, the city recorded 1,194 cases while the rural areas recorded 152. Dr. Jagannath, however, said that there had been a steady decline in the number over the years.
Dr. Jagannath said that the district administration was in the process of conducting training and awareness programmes for officials of the local governance. During the first week of September, over 40 village secretaries were trained in the methods of reducing the mosquito breeding centres. "We are conducting similar programmes for social organisations and village-level representatives," he said.
He said that the administration was undertaking larval control measures by introducing guppy fish into open wells, water tanks and other water bodies that offered sanctuary to the mosquitoes.
The officials of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, Government of India, had instructed to desist from fogging and fumigation, which were the conventional methods of combating the vermin.
"In the next few years, fogging may be phased out altogether," he said and added that more natural methods were being preferred as part of a larger national policy. A fish tank would be constructed in the premises of the District Health and Family Welfare Office.