Monsoon is a relief after the scorching heat of summer. However, mosquitoes find this season the best time to breed and multiply – leading to various health hazards!
The smell of damp earth, the refreshing feel of the rain and the yummy chai-samosa in the evenings are the things that endear us to this wet season. However, the good is usually accompanied by the bad, and in this case – it is the various water-borne diseases and the malaria-causing mosquitoes.
For brave-hearts who think mosquitoes are just another variety of those pesky bugs, think again.
• There are estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1,000 trillion) mosquitoes on planet Earth!
• They have been around for 30 million years, perfecting their ability to detect your heat, light, body odour, and carbon dioxide – thus adapting themselves to survive longer.
• Once you are bitten, the proteins in their saliva set up an immune response – swelling and itching.
• The diseases they spread have killed more people than all the wars in history.
• World-wide, mosquito-spread diseases kill 2-3 million people every year by infecting an estimated 200 million per year with malaria, filariasis, yellow fever, chikangunya and dengue fever.
Besides the usual diseases, there is another mosquito-transmitted disease that does the rounds during monsoon. Japanese Encephalitis is a serious infection which occurs in certain rural parts of Asia.
It causes the brain to swell and symptoms of severe infections include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, abnormal movements, occasional convulsions (especially in infants), coma and paralysis. About 1 in 4 of such cases results in death.
Keeping the given facts in mind, there is a need to take adequate measures in this rainy season so that your child can enjoy the rain without falling prey to mosquito-spread diseases.
Prevent stagnant water in and around your house – Open drains, shallow pools of water, air cooler water and so on can be chief breeding areas for mosquitoes. Make sure you change your cooler water regularly.
All water sources like wells, tanks, construction reservoirs, underground sumps and overhead tanks should be covered. Gutters and drainage systems should be of the closed type. Get the underground and overhead tanks cleaned, both before and after the monsoons.
Screens and netting – Installing netted screens on the doors and windows of your house allows ventilation without entry to the mosquitoes. In tropical countries like India where mosquitoes are more rampant, using mosquito nets over the beds when going to sleep is advisable.
Clothing can help reduce mosquito bites - When possible, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. The lesser the amount of exposed skin, the lesser are the chances of getting bitten by the pesky bugs.
Use of mosquito repellants – Use of mosquito repellant creams or sprays, and other products like mosquito coils or mats/liquidators are mandatory during the monsoon.
Apply insect repellent containing DEET (N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) to exposed skin when you go outdoors. DEET is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women and in children (in concentrations of 10% or less).
Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus have been approved as natural mosquito repellants by many researchers. Studies show that both ingredients can help you guard against mosquito bites, although because of their lower concentrations, highly concentrated DEET products will last longer.
Be aware of peak mosquito hours - The hours from dusk to dawn are peak mosquito biting times for many species of mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning - or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
Keeping the above given measures in mind. It’ll help you to prepare well for the monsoon ahead. Go ahead, enjoy the rain – just make sure you have ‘covered’ your bases well!
Read more articles on Malaria