Malaria is normally associated with the monsoon. However, much before the advent of the rains, civic hospitals in the city alone recorded close to 1,000 malaria cases. And alarmed, the BMC has tightened its drive against dengue and malaria.
According to figures available with the corporation's health department, around 2,000 cases have been registered to date.
Dr Pratit Samdhani, physician at Jaslok Hospital said: "If we compare the figures in the beginning of the year, the last two months (April-May) have been witnessing a rise in malaria cases. Mumbai sees malaria cases round the year and number peaks during monsoon, between August and November."
According to Dr Samdhani in most cases, patients have low platelet counts and fever with liver complaint.
Dr Khusrav Bhajan, intensivist at PD Hinduja Hospital, said: "We have unfortunately been seeing a rising number of malaria cases in this off-season. It's under reported because of the weird nature of the disease. Malaria is not picked up in the first two blood samples. This leads to such patients landing in hospitals with lung, heart, liver problems."
Dr Bhajan, who right now has 2-3 malaria patients in the ICU, said though these people had initially tested negative for malaria, they were responding to anti-malarial treatment. "Doctors have to be vigilant as it looks like the parasite has undergone some kind of a mutation," said Dr Bhajan.
BMC's health department, however, feels otherwise. Dr Mangala Gomare, epidemiology department in-charge in BMC, said: "Mumbai sees malaria cases throughout the year. The numbers during this period of the year has been the same, with no rise or dip. We have round-the-year programmes to fight malaria. Our efforts have been appreciated even by the central government. We now aim to restrict malaria cases to the minimum and require Mumbaikars' cooperation for this."
BMC also plans to concentrate on containing dengue this year, as it was a cause of worry last year. "Extra efforts are being taken to implement intervention programmes at workplace as most dengue mosquito breeding spots are found in non-slum areas," said Dr Gomare.
What is malaria?
Malaria is a serious disease which is fatal at times, and is caused by a parasite. Malarial patients are generally very sick with high fever, shaking chills and flu-like illness. Four kinds of malaria parasites can infect humans: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae.
You can prevent malaria by Keeping mosquitoes from biting you, especially at night; eliminating mosquito-breeding places around your home; spraying insecticides on your home walls to kill adult mosquitoes that come inside; sleeping under bed nets, especially effective if they have been treated with insecticide, and wearing insect repellents and long-sleeved clothing if out of doors at night.