March 17, 2010
Amrita School of Medicine, Kochi
Did you know that malaria was eradicated from Kerala way back in 1965? Periodically, however, signs of its resurgence have surfaced. Coastal Kerala has witnessed occasional outbreaks of epidemic proportions.
The degradation of the environment due to massive urbanization has resulted in the increasing incidence of Bancroftian Filariasis across the entire length and breath of Kerala. The disease is caused by mosquitoes.
Another mosquito-borne disease, the Brugian Filariasis, has the dubious distinction of having created a large epidemic in Kerala in the 1990s, that was finally brought under control through the initiative of the Indian Council of Medical Research.
And who is not familiar with chikungunya and dengue? In recent years, these killer diseases have resulted in considerable morbidity and mortality in this state. All this and more was discussed at the CME (Continuing Medical Education) on Mosquito-Borne Diseases: Challenges and Opportunities organized recently at Amrita.
Experts from medical colleges and premier national research institutions, as well as state nodal officers participated. Deliberations were held on the topics of epidemiology and clinical spectrum of chikungunya, dengue, malaria, filariasis and other emerging viral threats. A discussion on Japanese encephalitis and new mosquito-borne diseases was also conducted.
“Vectors responsible for transmission, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, have undergone major evolutionary changes in their bionomics and distribution due to many micro- and macro-level environmental factors including global warming,” explained Prof. Alexander of the Department of Community Medicine, that organized the CME.
Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are species of mosquitoes responsible for the diseases dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. “There is also the risk of introduction of yellow fever to Kerala, as the vector is abundant and air travel is so common,” he added, while speaking about this mosquito-borne disease more commonly found in Africa.
For many, the CME could not have been at a better time. “The Government of Kerala has just begun the Four-Plus Campaign,” stated Prof. Alexander, referring to the year-long infectious diseases-control program initiated to tackle four diseases, dengue, chikungunya, malaria and leptospirosis, three of which are mosquito-borne.
The CME program that was inaugurated by DMO Dr. K. T. Ramani, also saw a detailed discussion of new diagnostic techniques. Dr. Prem Nair, Medical Director, Dr. Prathapan Nair, Principal of the Amrita School of Medicine, Dr. K. Leelamoni, Professor and HOD and Dr. K. N. Panicker, Emeritus Professor, all spoke on the occasion.