- Infants are more vulnerable to vector-borne infections
- Many of these disease can be prevented easily by taking some precautionary measures at home
Doctors at Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula have recorded a jump in the number of vector-borne disease cases among babies, with the onset of the monsoon season this year. Many children, especially between 0-5 years tend to develop vector-borne infections during this season, which often get aggravated with the variation in temperature and rainfall, and when coupled with common-flu or fever can turn out to be worse and life-threatening.
Over the last few weeks, the number of children coming to OPDs with vector-borne diseases has increased report doctors at Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula. According to World Health Organization (WHO), vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases globally, causing more than 1 million deaths every year.
“A vector is any organism that is capable of transmitting a pathogen or infected agent to another organism, and a vector-borne disease is any illness derived from the action of any vector. Examples of vectors include mostly parasites such as mosquitoes, rats, flees, ticks, flies. Some of the common vector-borne diseases noted among children in our area include Malaria, Dengue Fever, Leptospirosis and Rabies. Some of these diseases can be troublesome and irritating for infants, if not detected early and treated on time. As horrifying as it might sound, it must also be noted that most of these can be easily prevented by following some basic safety measures inside and outside home,” says Dr Jyoti Chawla, Sr. Consultant Pediatrics, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula.
Clinical evidence suggests that as the monsoon sets in, children between 0-10 years become more vulnerable to vector-borne infections, and dengue and malaria in particular. WHO works with partners across the world to provide education and raise awareness so that people know how to protect themselves and communities from mosquitoes, ticks, bugs, flies and other vector-borne health issues. However, when it comes to children, extra precautionary measures need to be taken, say experts.
“Since newborns and children do not have a strong immune system, they are more likely to fall ill, particularly at the onset of the rainy season. Besides, children also tend to expose themselves more to mosquitoes or other vectors in schools or while playing in open playgrounds. They may also get the infection from or pass on to their peer groups, families, and communities. To prevent the outbreaks of such diseases and controlling the vectors, awareness must be stepped up on the modes of transmission. Being aware of peak exposure times and places will go a long-way in protecting children against vector-borne diseases,” adds Dr Jyoti Chawla.
A few other tips given by doctors at Paras Bliss to reduce the risk of vector-borne diseases in children:
- Change the water in flower vases, pots and other water containers every two days. This removes mosquito eggs present inside the container and prevents mosquito larvae from maturing.
- Mesh all ports of entry for mosquitoes to your home, including windows and doors. This proves very effective in keeping them away.
- Keep windows and doors closed at dawn and dusk to prevent mosquitoes or other bugs from entering.
- Make your children wear long sleeves and full pants that protect you’re their skin from mosquito bites, especially if they have to go outside.
- Sleep under mosquito nets and make the same a habit for your children too.
- Avoid sleeping on floor especially in monsoon season.
- Make holes in used food cans and tins before disposing them (to prevent water from collecting).
- Search the backyard for objects (e.g. old tyres, cans, etc) that may have the potential to hold water and get rid of them. Also, always cover drums containing useful water.
- Breastfeed your children for optimum immunity and get them vaccinated on time.
- Apply repellents to exposed skin or clothing in children. However, be careful not to use repellents under clothing. Protect infants aged <2 months (on whom repellants cannot be applied) from vectors by using an infant carrier draped with netting and an elastic edge.
More than one million deaths annually are due to vector borne diseases accounting for more than 17% of all infectious diseases world-wide. Dengue alone is contracted by more than 2.5 billion people in over 100 countries. Malaria still causes more than 4, 00, 000 deaths globally every year. Preventive measures through informed protective measures can significantly bring the national health burden down.