Grandma's Tales

October 3, 2006

The enemy within

Filed under: Uncategorized — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 3:11 pm

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Amos who?
A mosquito.

And that mosquito is Aedes aegypti that injects the chik virus causing chikungunya. “Chikungunya” is derived from a Tanzanian word that describes the bending posture – a posture that a man adopts when doubling up with pain, the severe joint pain that accompanies Chikungunya fever.

One big fallout of the spread of Chikungunya is the explosion in the sale of mosquito repellents. Hit, Mortein and Baygon sprays are doing brisk business as do rub-on repellents and coils; the sales, no doubt boosted by the news that daytime bites are more dangerous (the airborne attackers hide in our homes during daytime). Hit has removed the roach component from the solution and sells cans that will kill mosquitoes and flies alone. Have roaches? Buy one meant for that. What will kill the roaches is ineffective in the face of smaller bills. And predictably, the prices have shot up.

What attracted me more was the MMR claim on the Mortein can. I thought MMR was an additional chemical that would wipe the vector off the face of the earth. Great, what is a little toxin if it will usher me into a mosquito-free world? I went out at once and got me a can. I was pleased I was up-to-date on chemical technology till Bharat Jayraj of Consumer Action Group laughed and told me that MMR stood for Mosquito Mortality Rate. I paid because this spray killed the creatures faster than others of its kind! Well…

I then bought an electronic mosquito trap. A mini version of the pest-o-flash you see in fast food joints and canteens. You drop the pellet in the slot and plug the contraption to the electric socket. Attracted by the smell, the critters are supposed to fly into the tiny cage and get electrocuted. Though they keep buzzing all over the place, I have not seen a single mosquito dead or alive on the floor of the cage. Either it is an efficient disposal system or we are expected to stand close to the plug point and sing inviting songs.

I also tried the new, improved version of the mosquito coil. Remember it is supposed to drive away, not kill, the enemy. Logically, I had to keep my windows open for them to leave, not an option in my area. What it drove away was my sleep since I got up choking and coughing because of the fumes, in the middle of the night. I hear a lot of people are affected similarly.

After spending a small fortune on coils and cans filled with harmful chemicals, I thought I would go the herbal way. I bought a book at the Indian Knowledge Systems which gives suggestions on “natural means” to beat enemies in nature. They actually work and they are harmless to humans but they come with one condition. Your rooms should be the size of an office cubicle. Anything bigger than 2 by 2, the enemy gets round one and two and three…

So I keep the house and surroundings free of stagnant water. I also use that old reliable: the mosquito net. Drop it down early in the evening, carry pieces of paper inside to kill the intruders, tuck yourself in and settle down to sleep. Your battle is won.


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