Predicting a dengue outbreak and practicing aparigrah


Dr KK Aggarwal    21 July 2018

A global consortium of researchers has developed an early warning system to alert authorities on the Caribbean island of Barbados when a dengue outbreak is likely to strike. The study, published July 17, 2018 in the journal PLos Medicine, has shown that a period of drought, followed by intense rainfall 4 to 5 months later provides the optimum conditions for disease outbreak.

A dengue epidemic was most likely to occur five months after a drought. And, if rainfall follows the drought period, the chance of dengue outbreak increase. The researchers believe that after a drought people are more likely to leave water containers out. So, next time there is a period of intense rainfall, there are more places for water to collect and therefore more breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

According to the researchers, people tend to store water in containers during periods of drought, providing an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, which lay their eggs in pools of standing water.

Many parts of India too face drought-like conditions and people store water in several containers to meet their needs. And when the first rains come after periods of bright sunshine and scorching summers, some people like to keep containers or vessels outside to collect the first rainwater. 

Our roofs and verandahs or open spaces around the houses already are dumping grounds for old tyres, discarded drums, cans, utensils, etc. The mosquitoes, Aedes specifically, therefore have ample breeding sites.

India being a dengue-endemic country, these habits need to change. 

One must learn to keep only what is required and discard what is not.

Jainism calls this “aparigraha”, one of the five great vows (maha-vratas) of Jainism. “Parigraha” means possessiveness, grasping or greediness. The opposite of “parigrah” is “aparigraha” or non-possession or non-attachment, which means one should not keep anything more than what is necessary.

Aparigraha is also one of the five Yamas described in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The others being ahimsa, satya, asteya and brahmacharya.

The first verse of Isha Upanishad says

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् । तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम् ॥

īśāvāsyamida sarva yatkiñca jagatyā jagat | tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gdha kasyasviddhanam ||

‘Whatever there is changeful in this ephemeral world, all that must be enveloped by the Lord. By this renunciation, support yourself. Do not covet the wealth of anyone.’

Needs often become synonym with desires. Aparigraha helps us to separate the two.


It is customary to clean our houses for the festival of Diwali. This is also the time when we dispose of all the unwanted items lying in the house or give it away. A similar Diwali-like cleaning of houses can be customarily done before the onset of monsoons to remove or dispose of all the discarded old containers etc. in which water can collect and become breeding grounds for the mosquitoes.  


Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

Vice President CMAAO

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Immediate Past National President IMA

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