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Dengue-hit India calls for clean up

India calls for a dramatic improvement in the public sanitation standards to prevent the outbreak of mosquito borne diseases like dengue.

Dengue-hit India calls for clean up

India calls for a dramatic improvement in the public sanitation standards to prevent the outbreak of mosquito borne diseases like dengue, which has killed 52 people and infected thousands in recent weeks. Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss expressed his concern about India's grubby cities and towns as the country is also dealing with 1.3 million suspected cases of chikungunya, a disease transmitted by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito, that causes dengue as well. Dengue outbreak began in late August and health officials have been slammed for not anticipating the dangers of mosquito breeding in stagnant and filthy water collected during the monsoons. Health Minister also said that the government has to tackle a lot if diseases caused due to sanitation problems. The Health Ministry would develop a new approach to disease control and public sanitation with the help of civic authorities after the outbreaks are tackled. Health and urban planning experts say a construction boom in Indian cities has resulted in a proliferation of poorly maintained building sites where rainwater collects after monsoons, allowing mosquitoes to breed. The Indian capital has been one of the worst affected by dengue this year, with 22 deaths in the city and surrounding areas, and over 1,100 infections. State hospitals are overcrowded with suspected cases. Both dengue and chikungunya cause high fever, muscular and joint pain, vomiting and rashes. Health inspectors in New Delhi are entering homes to check if residents have emptied their water-coolers and sprayed insecticides to control the outbreak. But many residents say that it is not enough. It's appalling that the drains are still choked despite the dengue scare. Fumigation was done, but for only a day or two. Besides, the garbage dumps are still full. Since 2005, India has been facing outbreaks of several diseases that have been blamed largely on poor public hygiene. Last year, more than 1,500 children died in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after an encephalitis outbreak, also caused by mosquitoes, which pick up the virus from pigs and transfer it to humans. This year, parts of Uttar Pradesh were also hit by over 300 polio cases.
Reuters,
October 2006
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