Urban Planning Vector borne diseases

Dear Plasmodium: Happy World Malaria Day, from Ahmedabad

Dear plasmodium,

It is world malaria day today. I can well imagine members of your genus, especially little falciparum and vivax residing in Ahmadabad, convoluting with amusement that this day is constituted by WHO to remind the world of how dangerous you are!

It seems that, as per some scientists (wasting time in doing things other than stock-trading), you are The most dangerous animal known to humanity. Surely, we won’t believe it, as we have not received any forwarded Whatsapp message about it nor have we seen a Facebook page asking us to like it.

It appears that, since you were identified as causative agent of malaria, you have killed nearly 200 to 500 million people in last two hundred years. Though this number is bigger than total death-toll of all the wars fought in the same period (including both world wars), we fail to see why we or our policy-makers should take you into account for anything that we do.

You are actually a minuscule protozoon, just a single cell animal that has motility. One monsieur Laveran noticed you in 1880 in blood of a malaria infected soldier. Within next four years, curtsey Roland Ross working in our own Kolkata, we found out mosquito to be your carrier.

In next two hundred years, we found out (along with trivial things like theory of relativity, quantum physics, computers, space travel etc.) a lot about your pathology, yet, for some insignificant reason, we have not been able to budge you from your top position of greatest killer known to humans. But, we fail to see why that should bother us at all.

We know that, as a parasite, you have an edge over simpler pathogens like virus and bacteria due to your complex structure. To escape detection by our immune system, you regularly change your outer “skin”, making you unrecognizable. We are unable to produce any vaccine against you for the same reason, as there is no way to have a permanent identity tag fixed on to an elusive shape-shifter like you using the biological lock-and-key mechanism.

It is also becoming apparent that you are developing resistance to the drugs that we use to destroy you inside our body. Though these highly toxic drugs, that also damage our own bodies while destroying you, are the only cure we have at this point in time, we surely are not going to get alarmed if they are no longer effective.

We know that it is difficult to prevent you from slinking past our immune system, but there exists a possibility of catching you before you enter our body, and that is by working on your vector, i.e. mosquito. But, do you feel that we are such mean people who will hold a grudge against a small insect? Have you no trust in amadavadi sense of hospitality?

My dear plasmodium! You are perfectly aware that we are working really hard to ensure that Ahmedabad becomes a heaven for mosquitoes and, in turn, for you. We know that poor mosquitoes did go through a lean period some years back due to some mindless humans inventing insecticides like DDT. Luckily for you, use of DDT was stopped due to its damaging impact on the environment. It is a bit unfortunate that WHO takes you so seriously that it has recently removed the ban on use of DDT even though it is a polluting substance, but you would be happy to know that your trusted vector, mosquito is fast developing resistance to DDT too.

Even though the world at large appears to be conspiring against you, be assured that Ahmadabad will try its level best to aid your cause. Due to some obscure reason, we feel that looking at water is salvation and to achieve that we are ready to pay any cost, including dying of a painful disease. So, you can always depend on us to provide you with most conducive environment to prosper.

Being a city with hot weather round the year suitable to insects if water is made available for them to breed, we are in best position to take you forward at a quick gallop. Even if our city naturally lacks a perennial water-body due to long summer months, we will use public money to ensure that we retain water on as many locations as possible to provide your vector with breeding opportunities round the year.

We will bring back the days of prosperity for your clan! You will have your mosquito foot-soldiers breeding in billions and we will provide millions of warm human bodies for you to prosper and evolve! I am sure that, in no time, we will celebrate our collaboration with a new p. amadavad strain along with our own Aedes amadavadi mosquito!

Please accept our best wishes for the world malaria day, as regardless of what WHO think, our policy makers and urban planners will ensure that humanity will continue to have many more malaria days.

DNA: 23/4/15

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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