Even though there are two more months to go before next year and the seasonal diseases are yet to see spurt during winter season, Punjab has already recorded highest swine flu and malaria cases in the last five years, shows the latest national health department data.
The efforts of the state government to eliminate malaria from Punjab have turned futile as the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), Punjab, has recorded 1,062 positive cases this year, highest since 2015. Malaria becomes more prevalent during monsoon and post-monsoon season (highest in October and November) and with two months still to go,the state health department is expecting more malaria cases. Of the total positive cases this year, 12 have been tested with plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum), however, no death due to the disease was reported.
At 1062, malaria cases saw 70% jump than the last year’s count of 624, while the state had recorded 805 positive malaria cases in 2017, 693 cases in 2016 and 596 cases in 2015. In 2016, under the NVBDCP, 15 states, including Punjab, were identified to eliminate vector borne disease by 2021.
Swine flu cases, on the other hand, has shown unprecedented rise this year as the positive count reached 541 cases against 47 in 2018 as per the NVBDCP data. The H1N1 virus had earlier gripped the state with 295 cases in 2017, 177 cases in 2016 and 300 cases in 2015. The death toll in the state due to swine flu this year is 31, while 11 persons died in 2018, 86 in 2017, 64 in 2016 and 61 in 2015.
Dr Gagandeep Singh Grover, state programme officer for Punjab’s National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), said, “Maximum cases of malaria this year were recorded from Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Mohali and Mansa due to comparatively higher influx of migrant population. Due to similar reason, Mohali, Patiala, Sangrur and Ludhiana remained most affected by Swine flu this year.”
Grover said increase in migrant population in the state is the major reason behind the spurt in all seasonal diseases. We are yet to ascertain whether the migrant population is transmitting the infection to indigenous population or not, he said.
“We are working on to stop the spread of malaria and are hopeful of eliminating the disease by 2021, through ongoing ‘Punjab Malaria Elimination Campaign’. This year, the trend of H1N1 virus has changed, which impacted the entire country,” state programme officer added.
Grover also said the health department is prepared to tackle malaria and swine flu in November and December and has enough medicine and equipment for the purpose.
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