West Bengal turns to bug to prevent malaria

Kolkata: West Bengal plans to use a bug to control the mosquito population that is responsible for malaria and dengue.

According to the director of state health services, B.R. Satpathi, a particular variety of the bacteria known as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) is an effective way to naturally control mosquito larvae that thrive in water bodies.

"It is part of the action plan to prevent any outbreaks of malaria or dengue. Initially, the control method will be introduced in the New Town (satellite township) where there is rapid urbanisation and resulting water clearance problems," Satpathi told IANS Thursday.

"It will be put into practice in a few days," he said.

Dengue and malaria are mosquito-borne diseases. While the former is caused by a virus borne by the Aedes species of mosquito, the latter is transmitted by Anopheles species of the vector carrying a protozoan parasite.

Bti formulations are recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as being eco-friendly due to the fact that they don't affect humans, fish and other insects in the surrounding area of use.

When Bti are consumed by the larvae, the bug damages the gut cells of the larvae and kills them through paralysis.

Satpathi said introduction of plants that repel mosquitoes are also part of the action plan for mosquito-borne diseases.

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