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Biological measures against dengue likely

ISLAMABAD, Oct 30: The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has said that the ‘Sterile Insect Technique (SIT)’ technology can be effectively used to counter the dengue epidemic in the country.

Addressing the second regional workshop on dengue here on Tuesday, PAEC Hospitals Director General Dr Zubair Hasan said several strategies were discussed at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna last year and SIT was found to be the most favoured option in view of its results.

He said there was a need to adopt biological control measures to check the spread of dengue, in addition to a multi-pronged strategy and conventional chemical spray.

He said the PAEC could not be a lead institution in controlling the dengue fever but had decided to take an initiative to build the capacity of provincial governments in this regard.

Dr Hasan said that although healthcare was primarily the mandate of provincial governments, the PAEC’s involvement in containing the dengue epidemic would be largely related to the development of a long-term strategy involving the radiation sterile insect technique causing the male mosquito to become infertile and limiting the spread of the dengue carrying mosquito.

It may be mentioned that warm temperatures increase the development rate of both the mosquito vector and the virus, fuelling more intense transmission.

According to the PAEC official, the effect of the disease in the short term has faded but there are apprehensions that it will be back every summer because the larvae take flight and pick up from where they left.

He said there was a need for tangible steps to ensure that in future the risk of the disease was minimised.

Pakistan has been hit by the dengue fever for several years. However, the incidence of the epidemic this year has not been as intense as last year when there were over 25,000 confirmed cases and 322 deaths between August and October.

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