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New report sheds light on health emergency as disease sweeps through India — here's what you need to know

"Mosquitoes don't just thrive in hot and humid weather — they're finding ways to spread their misery around the world."

"Mosquitoes don't just thrive in hot and humid weather — they're finding ways to spread their misery around the world."

Photo Credit: iStock

Mosquito-borne illnesses are on the rise in India, according to data released by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and reported on by The Economic Times. This new and worrying data is in line with global trends, in which the overheating of our planet has led to more mosquitoes and more of the diseases they spread.

What's happening?

According to the MCD data, rates of vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya were 90% higher during monsoon season in 2023 than in 2022. 

Monsoon season in 2024 is right around the corner — it is expected to arrive in Delhi this year around June 27, and the MCD is worried that the conditions that lead to increased mosquito breeding could result in even more illnesses this year.

Why are increased mosquito populations concerning?

Vector-borne diseases, or diseases spread to humans via blood-sucking insects, aren't just on the rise in India — cases are spiking in places all across the globe. 

Mosquitoes thrive in hot and humid weather, and the continued overheating of our planet — largely a result of our reliance on dirty energy sources such as gas and oil — has caused mosquito habitats to expand.

In Rio de Janeiro, public health officials recently declared a state of emergency ahead of Carnival as cases of dengue fever spiked. "The record heat in the country and the above-average rainfall since last year, even before the summer, have increased the number of mosquito breeding sites in Brazil, even in regions that had few cases of the disease," Brazil health minister Nísia Trindade said

Record mosquito levels across Central and South America have caused the World Health Organization to issue dire warnings. Meanwhile, residents of Houston are reporting never-before-seen mosquito levels, and mosquitoes are even showing up in colder places such as Finland.

What's being done about ballooning mosquito populations?

In Delhi, the MCD has deployed "a large number of domestic breeding checkers … to check for larvae and mosquito breeding," the organization said. These checkers go around the city searching out containers of standing water in which mosquitoes like to lay their eggs. The MCD has also been spraying insecticides at potential breeding sites.

Other countries have turned to more innovative solutions that do not involve toxic chemicals being sprayed in places where people live. These have included releasing genetically modified mosquitoes (which are harmless to humans) to kill the mosquitoes that spread the diseases as well as using a small device called a Guardian Toad that runs on solar energy and constantly disrupts the surface of standing water, making it impossible for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

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