The dengue outbreak has set a new record in the country as during the current year over 44,000 people have so far been infected with the 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 mortalities was almost six times higher, as compared to the current year, as 370 persons died.
Talking to Dawn, the chief of the Disease Surveillance Division at the National Institute of Health, Dr Rana Safdar, has said that during the current year an unprecedented number of dengue cases were reported across the globe. He claimed that Pakistan has performed much better as compared to other countries.
He said he recently attended a meeting in Atlanta, United States, which discussed the issue of dengue outbreak, adding that representatives of a number of countries in the meeting praised the performance of the Pakistan government and asked that the country’s experience of controlling the disease be documented.
Mosquito-borne disease has infected over 44,000 people and claimed 66 lives during current year
Dr Safdar said the dengue transmission season was almost at an end in most of the areas of the country. Karachi was the only area of the country from where not only 94 per cent cases of Sindh were reported, but dengue transmission might continue till the current year’s end, he added.
“It is because temperature of Karachi is still warmer as compared to other areas of the country. We have to do a marathon effort 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 from across the country. As many as 12,433 cases were reported from Islamabad, 10,142 from Sindh, 9,260 from Punjab, 7,346 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 3,051 cases from Balochistan. As many as 1,672 cases are reported from Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 511 cases are included in other category.
The dengue virus has claimed as many as 26 lives in Sindh, 22 in Islamabad, 14 in Punjab, three in Balochistan and one in AJK.
Public health threats
Dr Safdar said that the World Health Organisation has included dengue in the top 10 global public health threats to the world.
He said that in the Philippines, as many as 322,693 people were infected by dengue this year and 1,272 of them had died. In Sri Lanka, 234,078 cases had been reported with over 100 deaths. In Thailand, 146,000 cases with 89 deaths, Vietnam 124,751 cases by Sept 26, Malaysia 104,950 cases with 204 deaths by Oct 13, and Bangladesh 122,136 cases with 104 deaths.
While sharing the data of Pan American Health Organisation, he said in Brazil 2.04 million cases of dengue with 676 deaths were reported till Oct 23, Mexico 181,625 cases with 89 deaths till Oct 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 Operation Centre (EOC) has been activated at the National Institute of Health for dengue outbreak. Our statistics are much better as compared to other countries, but our task is not over. Based on recent experience, we will develop a comprehensive multi-sectoral national action plan in coordination with the provinces and will defeat dengue in the next few years,” Dr Safdar said.
It is pertinent to mention that dengue is spread by the mosquito bite and patients face deficiency of platelets due to which transfusion of platelets is required as patient’s blood does not have the normal clotting ability. If timely treatment is not provided, the disease may turn into life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever. Fever may lead to bleeding, low levels of platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome — a dangerously low blood pressure.
Pakistan has experienced many dengue outbreaks since the first outbreak was observed in 1994. During the last two decades, two major outbreaks were reported in Pakistan — in 2005 in which over 6,000 cases with 52 deaths were reported from Karachi and in year 2011 in which more than 21,000 cases were reported from Lahore with 350 deaths.
Moreover, from 2011 to 2014 more than 48,000 laboratory confirmed cases of dengue were reported from across the country.