Drought followed by rainfall can provide optimum conditions for dengue outbreak

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine 1 Comment

India being dengue-endemic should include disease prevention strategies as part of its plans to combat the condition

New Delhi, 21 July 2018: A global consortium of researchers has developed an early warning system to alert authorities on the Caribbean island of Barbados when a dengue outbreak is likely to strike. The study has shown that a period of drought, followed by intense rainfall for 4 to 5 months, provides the optimum conditions for disease outbreak.

People are more likely to leave water containers outside their homes after a spell of drought. When a period of intense rainfall follows, these containers become the source for water to collect and a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President HCFI, said, “People tend to store water in containers during periods of drought. This provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, which lay their eggs in pools of standing water. There is a need to shift emphasis toward more proactive disease prevention strategies that do not rely as strongly on responding to detected cases alone. Many parts of India too face drought-like conditions and people store water in several containers to meet their needs. And when the first rains come after periods of bright sunshine and scorching summers, some people like to keep containers or vessels outside to collect the first rainwater. Our roofs and verandahs or open spaces around the houses already are dumping grounds for old tyres, discarded drums, cans, utensils, etc. The mosquitoes, Aedes specifically, therefore have ample breeding sites. India is a dengue-endemic country and therefore, these habits need to change. One must learn to keep only what is required and discard what is not.”

Jainism calls the act of letting go as aparigraha, one of the five great vows (maha-vratas). Aparigraha is also one of the five Yamas described in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The others are ahimsa, satya, asteya, and brahmacharya.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Needs often become synonymous with desires. Aparigrahacan help us separate the two. We clean our houses customarily during the festival of Diwali. This is also the time when we dispose of all the unwanted items by giving them away. A similar Diwali-like cleaning houses can be done before the onset of monsoons to remove or dispose of all the discarded old containers etc. in which water can collect and become breeding grounds for the mosquitoes.”

Some tips from HCFI

Few other points to be considered include the following.

  • A community approach means that 100% of the society talks about dengue. Every premise must indicate that it is mosquito free. When you are invited to someone’s house, you should ask “I hope your premises are mosquito free”. When you invite, write, “welcome to my house, it is mosquito free”.
  • The idea of checking your house once a week needs a change. One needs to be alert every day. It should be a part of your routine. You do not clean your premises once a week. Make it a habit to look for the breeding places.

Predicting a dengue outbreak and practicing aparigrah

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A global consortium of researchers has developed an early warning system to alert authorities on the Caribbean island of Barbados when a dengue outbreak is likely to strike. The study, published July 17, 2018 in the journal PLos Medicine, has shown that a period of drought, followed by intense rainfall 4 to 5 months later provides the optimum conditions for disease outbreak.

A dengue epidemic was most likely to occur five months after a drought. And, if rainfall follows the drought period, the chance of dengue outbreak increase. The researchers believe that after a drought people are more likely to leave water containers out. So, next time there is a period of intense rainfall, there are more places for water to collect and therefore more breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

According to the researchers, people tend to store water in containers during periods of drought, providing an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, which lay their eggs in pools of standing water.

Many parts of India too face drought-like conditions and people store water in several containers to meet their needs. And when the first rains come after periods of bright sunshine and scorching summers, some people like to keep containers or vessels outside to collect the first rainwater.

Our roofs and verandahs or open spaces around the houses already are dumping grounds for old tyres, discarded drums, cans, utensils, etc. The mosquitoes, Aedes specifically, therefore have ample breeding sites.

India being a dengue-endemic country, these habits need to change.

One must learn to keep only what is required and discard what is not.

Jainism calls this “aparigraha”, one of the five great vows (maha-vratas) of Jainism. “Parigraha” means possessiveness, grasping or greediness. The opposite of “parigrah” is “aparigraha” or non-possession or non-attachment, which means one should not keep anything more than what is necessary.

Aparigraha is also one of the five Yamas described in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The others being ahimsa, satya, asteya and brahmacharya.

The first verse of Isha Upanishad says

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् । तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम् ॥

īśāvāsyamidaṃ sarvaṃ yatkiñca jagatyāṃ jagat | tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gṛdhaḥ kasyasviddhanam ||

‘Whatever there is changeful in this ephemeral world, all that must be enveloped by the Lord. By this renunciation, support yourself. Do not covet the wealth of anyone.’

Needs often become synonym with desires. Aparigraha helps us to separate the two.

It is customary to clean our houses for the festival of Diwali. This is also the time when we dispose of all the unwanted items lying in the house or give it away. A similar Diwali-like cleaning of houses can be customarily done before the onset of monsoons to remove or dispose of all the discarded old containers etc. in which water can collect and become breeding grounds for the mosquitoes.

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

Vice President CMAAO

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Immediate Past National President IMA