K M Dayashankar
HYDERABAD: Vector-borne diseases constitute over 17 per cent of all infectious diseases and largely affect people in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. India with its rising temperatures and longer transmission seasons is a hub of vector-borne diseases. There is thus a need to raise awareness on prevention and treatment options.
Vectors are organisms that can transmit infectious pathogens from an infected individual to another or from animals to humans. Some of the common vector-borne diseases in India include dengue, malaria, chikungunya, and scrub typhus, which poses a high public health burden.
Dengue and chikungunya are transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, while malaria is transmitted through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito. Scrub typhus is transmitted to humans by the bite of the larva of mites or chiggers. Fever is a common symptom in all these diseases.
Raising awareness, Dr Arulrhaj, Founder, Chairman and Head, Acute Medicine, Sundaram Arulrhaj Hospitals, said, “Precaution is the key to protecting oneself from vector-borne diseases. However, if you still develop any of these diseases, do not panic and do not self-medicate. Consult a physician as early as possible. Do not be quick to label every fever as COVID-19 and start rushing for tests. The symptoms of all these diseases can overlap and they are treatable. Treatment of dengue and chikungunya involves the use of paracetamol to relieve fever and pain. Scrub typhus is treated with antibiotics, while malaria requires treatment with antimalarials”.
“Fortunately, some antibiotics like doxycycline are known to have a potential role in the treatment of vector-borne diseases. This is a broad-spectrum, time-tested antibiotic, which also has antiviral, anti-typhus, anti-parasitic, and anti-inflammatory properties”, he added.
Doxycycline is also the drug of choice in scrub typhus. In dengue, it can be beneficial for patients at high risk of complications. It could be useful in chikungunya as well. In malaria, the drug can serve as a preventive or can be given with antimalarial drugs for its treatment.
Remember that it is important to take all preventive measures to protect one. But if you still fall prey to any of these diseases, consult a doctor and follow his advice.