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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Three: Asia

Saturday, November 3

Karachi to Bombay Malaria prevention in Bombay. Most of the information above was obtained in person from Dr. Mhatre during an inspection tour this morning of the city's malarial breeding spots. Mhatre is a fine chap, keen, industrious and modest. He called for me at the dockyard and we started off through the main portion of the city and soon reached a group of dwellings. It was so early that he was hesitant about entering these houses, but we climbed quietly to the roof of a large home and examined the tanks in which the householder stores his water. It seemed incredible to me that in these days of modern hydraulic systems each home should need storage tanks, and he explained that actually it is not necessary but that the custom is a relic of the days before the big reservoirs were constructed near Poona to impound water during the rainy season, and guarantee proper supply in the dry months. It is this tremendous group of tanks which forms the chief problem in Bombay's control of malaria - there are 39,000 in all, including 100 on the Taj Mahal Hotel. Anopheles mosquitoes breed only in fresh water, and after the eggs are laid the larvae develop within two weeks. The only hope for eradication is to inspect every inch of fresh water surface in the city at weekly intervals. Mhatre has 70 inspectors who go out daily on scheduled routes to look into the storage tanks, the sacred wells, and the odd collections of fresh water about the city, particularly the regions where new buildings are going up and the contractors are keeping pails of water about. The tanks must be constructed according to an approved plan, with well fitted heavy lids which are kept locked. If an inspector finds a lid ajar it is properly replaced and the owner is notified, and on the next weekly visit the water is examined for larvae which, if found, are killed with oil or Paris Green. The commissioner has been unable to eliminate all of the city's wells, because some 500 have to be permitted for religious ceremonies. In these, a form of small guppie-like fish, which originally was obtained from South America, takes care of elimination of the larvae. The creed demands that these wells have both light and air, but the Parsi group has accepted a form of tank in which light penetrates through a glass plate, and air through a fine mesh screen. We looked at several houses and two of the sacred wells, and also examined the map of the city showing where larvae are found from month to month. I was astonished to see a heavy larval infestation just across the street from the dockyard, in the compound of the Prince of Wales Museum, where a new wing is being erected. The thought of this makes one draw a mosquito netting more tightly about him at night, but even so there is danger, because one of the officers had a severe attack two weeks ago, contracted presumably on the premises. The malarial chill comes on with such rapidity and with so little warning that I should be helpless if it first took hold while we were flying. Many people take daily administrations of quinine, from the time they enter the tropics, as a sort of preventative, but I do not see the sense in this. I hope Bob has not forgotten how to fly!

The effectiveness of the measures taken by the Malarial Commission can be seen by the following tables:

MALARIAL CASES IN DISPENSARIES
OF BOMBAY CHILDREN OF A PARTICULAR WARD:

1928

1929

1930

1931

1932

1933

16,918

12,558

4,547

3,622

1,070

1,107

"SPLEEN RATE" FOR SCHOOL

1928

1931

1932

1933

8.1%

7.8%

3.14%

1.2%

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