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| Last Updated:20/11/2021

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Climate change and increasing rate of mosquito-borne virus transmission in Manipur

 (Published under media fellowship on climate change reporting)

By Babie Shirin

Source: Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Aug 2

Mosquito-borne viruses such as Dengue and Chikungunya have become a threat to the population of Manipur as a report from State Malaria department has shown that till the month of July this year, there have been 25 recorded cases of Dengue and three cases of Chikungunya in the State. Most recently, 85 cases of Japanese Enciphalities have been reported out of which three persons were killed by the mosquito-borne disease in the State. It has been predicted that climate change and rising global temperatures will lead to both increase and new exposures to humans of diseases carried by mosquito vectors borne disease. The most extreme instances of transmission are predicted to occur at intermediate climate change scenario, if the people are less aware of disease. While the report from 2015 to 2018 shows that mosquito borne viral diseases are increasing with the on-going climate change. During 2015, there were 50 reported cases of dengue and six cases of JE. In 2016, one died out of 51 reported cases of dengue while another died out 47 reported cases of JE. In 2017, one died out 189 reported cases of Dengue, while 11 died out of 194 reported cases of JE. The cases increased in 2017 while it decreased in 2018 as there were 57 cases of Dengue out of which three died and out of 57 cases of JE, 3 died. The transmission of both diseases is high in the month of July for every year since 2015 to 2019. That is the months in summer season with partial rainfall. For this year, there have been higher cases of the diseases reported. So far, 76 JE have been reported out of which three died while 25 cases of dengue have been further reported.  The reports further predict that the disease is likely to increase. It may also be mentioned that this year, Chikungunya has been reported that for the first time in the month of February and March. However, no cases of death have been reported so far. State malaria officer of NVBDCP, Manipur stated that Chikungunya is the same virus linked to Dengue. Preventive measures have been taken up in time and cases were cured, he said. He also stated that malaria cases occurred less in the State while noting that for this year, only one cases malaria was found from a patient who contracted the disease from outside the State. Looking deep in district wise, Imphal East has high dengue case of this year; there are 5 cases of dengue reported so far while Senapati has 35 JE cases out of which 3 persons died at Imphal East and Kangpokpi districts. In connection to the increase in mosquito transmission diseases and pattern of climate change, a 2002 WHO report says that climate change is likely to lengthen the transmission seasons of important vector-borne diseases and to alter their geographic range. Aedes mosquito vector of dengue is also highly sensitive to climate change conditions, and studies suggest that climate change is likely to continue its increase exposure to dengue. According to WHO, mosquitoes are the one deadliest animals in the world, carrying diseases that cause millions of deaths every year. Both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus can carry the dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses, as well as at least a dozen other emerging diseases that researchers say could be a threat in the next 50 years. For the state of Manipur, it is confirmed that dengue virus have already started affecting the population while cases of Chikungunya have already been reported on the month of February and March this year. It may also mentioned that the report released by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in the series under the fifth assessment, says that it is clear that climate change will have an impact on human health. The local change in temperature and rainfall has altered the distribution of water borne, vector-borne illness. Officer of state malaria, Dr. Serto stated that people of the State has been facing climate change impact. “They know the change is occurring; since 10 years back people who stayed at Imphal and other district preferred to go Moreh due to hot temperature. Now, temperature at Imphal is same as Moreh no one fear to go,” he said.  He also mentioned that last year, the temperature at Chandel was 40 degree Celsius. “All such impacts are happening in front of us, pattern of rainfall are drastically changing,” it stated. He said that climate change is not occurring in one place, it is global challenge. It is fact that due to changing pattern and rise in temperature mosquito are active in transmitting disease. Mosquito are active in summer season and they breed in dirty areas, he said. “Disease control programme is the responsibility of malaria department but what about sanitation and protection of creating dirty places?” he questioned. Department is taking its full responsibility of controlling. However, public health engineering department should also take responsibility of sanitation, he added. It requires a united fight; state government alone cannot handle climate change impact. It is responsible for each individual to take part on sustaining and maintaining impact, he added. It cannot be said that dengue comes from other neighbouring state or country. It is rooted in the state because the dengue cases were found many years back, he further said. Concerning JE, the disease is spread from pigs mostly piggery farms, he stated. He further said these farms should be kept far from houses and sanitation has to be maintained to prevent JE. New cases of Chikungunya are found this year, he noted while adding it is due to increase of stagnant, dirty waters and waste dumping places. Mosquitos breed at dirty areas not at sanitised areas, he said. Each and every individual has to take responsible to protect the people from such diseases, he said. Nothing is impossible if each individual acknowledge their responsible without throwing risk to government, he further said. Numerous awareness programmes would be rendered useless if no one feels individual risk of taking care, he added.