August 22, 2010

Malaria Cases in Mumbai Already Already Exceed 2009 Total

Health officials said Friday that India is fighting off record levels of malaria infection in Mumbai, with as many cases being reported in the first half of 2010 compared to the entire year last year.

Authorities in the financial hub have drafted in experts from Medecins Sans Frontieres to try and fend off the outbreak, which has seen about 4,000 cases in August.

"It's an exceptional year. We're definitely seeing a rise in cases. It's a record number," assistant health officer Dr Daksha Shah told AFP.

The first six months of 2010 saw over 14,700 cases in Mumbai, which is nearly as many as the entire year of 2009.

Malaria is a disease transmitted through mosquito bites that causes fever, headaches and vomiting.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), if the disease goes untreated then it can quickly become life threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs.

According to figures released Friday by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Cooperation, a little over 3,800 people have tested positive for malaria since August 1, and there have been 28 deaths to follow.

Tiago Dal Molin, the group's project coordinator in Mumbai, said in a statement: "It is crucial that health staff can give a correct diagnosis so that patients can be treated appropriately."

"The diagnostic tests that we provide are reliable, easy to use and require just one drop of blood to give results."

Outbreaks of malaria and water-borne disease are common in Mumbai, which is home to about 18 million people.

A.C. Dhariwal, director of the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme, told the Indian Express last month that Mumbai had the highest number of malaria cases and deaths in India.

Public health officials told AFP that Mumbai's construction sites have become a place for mosquitoes to bread, helping to spread the disease.

The officials said that 200,000 construction workers are at risk of infection, many of them are migrants who sleep on the site.


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