ISLAMABAD: The dengue outbreak has set a new record in the country, as during the current year more than 44,000 people have been infected with mosquito-borne disease and 66 of them have lost their lives.
In 2011, 27,000 people were affected by the disease, but the number of deaths was almost six times higher, compared to the current year, as 370 people died.
Speaking to Dawn, the head of the Division of Disease Surveillance of the National Institute of Health, Dr. Rana Safdar, said that during the current year an unprecedented number of cases of dengue were reported worldwide. He said that Pakistan has performed much better compared to other countries.
He said he recently attended a meeting in Atlanta, United States, which discussed the issue of the dengue outbreak, adding that representatives from several countries at the meeting praised the performance of the Pakistani government and asked that the country's experience of controlling the disease be documented
Mosquito-borne disease has infected more than 44,000 people and has claimed 66 lives during the current year
Dr. Safdar said the dengue transmission season was coming to an end in most areas of the country. Karachi was the only area in the country from which not only 94 percent of Sindh cases were reported, but dengue transmission could continue until the end of the current year, he added.
“It is because the temperature of Karachi is still warmer compared to other areas of the country. We have to do a marathon if we want to control the disease in Karachi during November, ”he said.
According to a document available with Dawn, during the current year 44,415 cases of dengue have been confirmed throughout the country. 12,433 cases of Islamabad, 10,142 of Sindh, 9,260 of Punjab, 7,346 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 3,051 cases of Balochistan were reported. Up to 1,672 cases of Azad Jammu and Kashmir are reported and 511 cases are included in another category.
Dengue virus has claimed up to 26 lives in Sindh, 22 in Islamabad, 14 in Punjab, three in Balochistan and one in AJK.
Threats to public health
Dr. Safdar said that the World Health Organization has included dengue in the top 10 global public health threats to the world.
He said that in the Philippines, up to 322,693 people were infected by dengue this year and 1,272 of them had died. In Sri Lanka, 234,078 cases have been reported with more than 100 deaths. In Thailand, 146,000 cases with 89 deaths, Vietnam 124,751 cases by September 26, Malaysia 104,950 cases with 204 deaths by October 13 and Bangladesh 122,136 cases with 104 deaths.
While sharing data from the Pan American Health Organization, he said that in Brazil 2.04 million cases of dengue were reported with 676 deaths as of October 23, Mexico 181,625 cases with 89 deaths as of October 30, Nicaragua 142,740 cases with 26 deaths, Colombia 101,129 cases with 69 deaths and Honduras 86,705 cases with 148 deaths.
“It is the first time in the history of the country that the Emergency Operations Center (COE) has been activated in the National Institute of Health by dengue outbreak. Our statistics are much better compared to other countries, but our task is not over. Based on recent experience, we will develop a comprehensive multisectoral national action plan in coordination with the provinces and overcome dengue in the coming years, ”said Dr. Safdar.
It is pertinent to mention that dengue is transmitted by mosquito bites and patients face platelet deficiency because a platelet transfusion is required since the patient's blood does not have the ability to coagulate normally. If timely treatment is not provided, the disease can become dengue hemorrhagic fever that endangers life. Fever can cause bleeding, low platelet levels and blood plasma loss, or dengue shock syndrome, a dangerously low blood pressure.
Pakistan has experienced many dengue outbreaks since the first outbreak was observed in 1994. During the past two decades, two major outbreaks were reported in Pakistan: in 2005, in Karachi, and in 2011, more than 6,000 cases with 52 deaths . More than 21,000 cases were reported from Lahore with 350 deaths.
In addition, from 2011 to 2014, more than 48,000 cases confirmed by dengue laboratories were reported throughout the country.
Posted in Dawn, November 6, 2019