The government will step up efforts to kill mosquito larvae and raise awareness of preventive measures over the next few weeks as heavy rains on Saturday are likely to boost the population of the dengue mosquito.
“It takes 10 days from the hatching of the egg to become a dengue mosquito. If the rainwater is not cleared, three weeks from now there will be a surge in the mosquito population and the number of dengue patients,” said Dr Jafar Ilyas, the additional director general for Vector Borne Diseases (a section of the Health Department).
“All you have to do is not keep your houses and surroundings clean. If the rainwater is dried or cleaned within five to six days, the larvae will get killed off. If it stands at a particular place for more than six days, the larvae will become mosquitoes and disease vectors,” he said.
He said the Dengue Cell, which is part of the Vector Borne Diseases section, would concentrate on raising awareness of the need for cleanliness and adding larvicide to water bodies or pools of stagnant water at public places.
Unlike last year, he said, there will be no mass insecticide spray campaign. “We don’t recommend spray, rather we recommend that the larvae be killed before they become adult mosquitoes,” he said.
“This is what we are trying to do and this is what we are trying to communicate to the public. If they keep their indoors clean and don’t let water accumulate, the situation will be under control.”
He said if the temperature rose to 40 degrees centigrade in the coming days, the larvae would be killed automatically.
Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique said the government was prepared to combat dengue and the disease had been kept in check by coordinated efforts by various departments.
He said that seminars were being arranged to raise awareness of preventive measures. He said that prevention was the main aspect of the government’s strategy to control the disease.
According to the Health Department, seven dengue cases have been confirmed in the Punjab including four in Lahore so far this season. A Bangladeshi woman is among those who tested positive for dengue in Lahore.
Meanwhile, the Environment Protection Department (EPD) continued a campaign to check tyre shops for improper storage. Pools of water formed in tyres left out in the open were one of the most common breeding grounds for mosquitoes during last year’s outbreak of dengue, according to a report prepared by a special committee set up by the chief minister.
On Thursday, Environment Minister Manshaullah Butt and EPD Secretary Saeed Iqbal Wahla accompanied officials on surprise inspections in Faisal Town and Johar Town. A godown was sealed for keeping tyres under the open sky without cover, while three shops in Johar Town were issued notices.
Four special squads have been engaged in dengue vector control for the last two months, during which time they have sealed 61 warehouses and junkyards and issued 391 notices to their owners for improper storage of material.
The squads have inspected 915 places 596 tyre shops and warehouses, 152 junkyards, 65 nurseries, and 102 under-construction sites in all nine towns and issued the notices under the Punjab Local Government Ordinance (PLGO).
The warehouses and junkyards sealed earlier were in Allama Iqbal Town, Data Ganj Baksh Town, Gulberg Town, Nishter Town, Ravi Town and Aziz Bhatti Town.
Wahla said that he had proposed that each town obtain its own tyre-shredding machine so they can quickly destroy any tyres left out in the open or stored improperly. He said that the shops that stored the tyres improperly would have to pay for their shredding, after which the scraps would be disposed of. He said that he had made the proposal to the town municipal authorities and the Lahore commissioner.
EPD officers said that in 2011, confiscated tyres were also left out in the open because there was not enough space to store them at TMA offices.
Wahla said that the EPD was also planning to hold workshops, seminars and public meetings in shops and markets to raise awareness.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.