Under the spell of chikungunya

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 16 Jul 2017, 20:27:34
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Opinion

Under the spell of chikungunya

Aedes mosquito has become the number one enemy of Dhakaites today. In their fight against the tiny insect, the two city corporations have failed miserably. But the money allocated for destruction of mosquito larva was not a paltry sum. Where has gone the Tk 340 million meant exclusively for eradication of mosquito? asks Neil Ray
Chikungunya has taken the capital by storm. Its outbreak was recorded for the first time in Tanjania. The disease takes its name from 'makonde' dialect but surprisingly sounds like a familiar word, chikun (thin) plus gunya or gunin (magical performer) to ears of the people of this land. But it is nowhere near this meaning, rather it means clinical feature of a patient -the bend-up or double-up position. Indeed, the temperature rises so abnormally high that it compels patients to curl up. 

If the disease has taken Dhaka city by storm, the debate over whether it has become an epidemic or not is no less contentious. People in authority would not concede to the argument that it is an epidemic. But the general public who are taking the brunt contend that it indeed is one. Almost every family living in this metropolitan, they claim, have one or more chikungunya patient/s. 

At the initial stage, the disease had every reason to be misdiagnosed. Both dengue and chikungunya have the same vector in Aedes mosquito. The process of the disease's spread, like dengue, is from patient to mosquito to healthy person. Three types of strains have so far been identified -two from Africa and one from Asia. The virus's incubation period is as long as a year. On that count it indeed is a dreaded disease with the potential of causing an epidemic during the post-monsoon when mosquitoes proliferate. 

Here is a winged enemy that is not a giant like flying dinosaurs called pterosaurs but a tiny insect with limited range of flying within clustered areas. However its fire power is no less deadly. It can carry chikungunya virus to several persons within its life span of two to four weeks. What is surprising is that the mosquito is too bold to be daunted by human presence during daytime. It usually carries out its attack during the morning and dusk when the sunlight is yet to be bright enough and starts fading before complete darkness. 

There is hardly any other way of getting the germ inside the blood system of human body. So Aedes mosquito has become the number one enemy of Dhakaites today. In their fight against the tiny insect, the two city corporations have failed miserably. But the money allocated for destruction of mosquito larva was not a paltry sum. Where has gone the Tk 340 million meant exclusively for eradication of mosquito? After so much ruckus, have the men with fogging machines appeared on the scene to fog the drains. Had they been deployed immediately after the pre-monsoon rains and at the onset of the monsoon, it would have worked as a pre-emptive attack on the winged enemy. Instead, the enemies were given as much time as they needed to get their onslaught formation right. 

The result is now for all to see and feel. People are falling victim to their attacks in droves. Although the disease does not normally kill, its debilitating effect continues -particularly seriously on the physically weak and vulnerable -for weeks and months. Its impact is devastating on families where the daily bread earner falls prey to the disease. The loss of work and income is likely to be enormous in the capital. Chikungunya's spread in another six districts has been reported. This bodes ill of health and livelihoods of more people. 

Apart from involvement of the authorities concerned with the mosquito eradication programme, there is a need for getting the message through so that the public can play a crucial role in destroying the breeding grounds of mosquito. Since female Aedes lay eggs in collected clear water, leave no pot or receptacle such as discarded plastic bottle, sliced green coconut anywhere and everywhere. The fight against Aedes will be half won.
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Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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