The BBMP is only now planning to shift from using pyrethrin, an organic compound, to the more effective pesticide malathion.

Could the use of a more effective pesticide have reduced dengue cases in BengaluruImage for representation
Health Health Friday, August 30, 2019 - 14:28

As the dengue scare continues to plague residents of Bengaluru, it has come to light that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) could have used a more effective pesticide in place of the one currently being used to control mosquito populations.

“Pyrethrin is the option that has been used all this time, however we are now planning to switch to malathion as it has been proven to be more effective when used outdoors compared to pyrethrin,” explains Dr BK Vijendra, Chief Health Officer of the BBMP.

Pyrethrin is an organically derived pesticide which comes from the Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium flower. While pyrethrins are considered to be relatively less toxic to humans than many other pesticides, the efficacy of the chemical has been found to be greater indoors than outdoors. Despite this, the BBMP has been utilising pyrethrin in place of an alternative, such as malathion, which has been known to have greater effect when used outdoors.

On the other hand, malathion, an insecticide belonging to a class of chemicals known as organophosphates, has been widely used to control mosquito populations outdoors. It acts by preventing the nervous systems of insects from being able to function properly.

Taking note of the alarming number of cases of dengue in the state, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan earlier this week stated that preventive measures needed to be taken up and implemented by all members of the general public.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that we don’t create an environment for these mosquitoes to breed. As the vector breeds in stagnant water, we should not let water get accumulated in unused and broken utensils and containers, used tyres, discarded coconut shells, water coolers, uncovered water tanks, etc. Commitment at all levels is essential for prevention and control of these diseases," he reportedly said.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease which is caused by one of the five major strains of the dengue virus. The virus is spread to humans via the bite of an infected mosquito. The incubation period is between 4 to 14 days after exposure to the virus, with people often complaining of high fever and immense joint pain. There is no vaccine for the virus, and treatment consists largely of supportive measures to ensure that the individual’s platelet levels are stabilised.

As of Friday, over 9,000 cases of dengue have been reported in Karnataka, with most cases being reported in the state capital Bengaluru. 

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