LAHORE, Feb 20: An acute skin disease is affecting people in south Punjab, it is learnt.
An official told Dawn that more than 1,000 cases of ‘leishmaniasis’ had been reported in seven districts of south Punjab from January till date, an unexpectedly high number.
As such a high number of cases had not been reported in the past, the Health Department has alerted all teaching/tertiary care hospitals in south Punjab.Medical experts say leishmaniasis is a skin-related disease which is transmitted by the bite of a female sandfly. “The sandflies inject infection into a human body and consequently large wounds appear on the skin within a couple of weeks,” Dr Muhammad Alim of Jinnah Hospital said.
He said the disease could lead to complications if a patient ignored the skin sore for some months.
The official said initially the disease was reported in Chakwal but later spread to other districts. He said 400 cases had been reported in Mianwali, 200 in Khushab, 150 in Chakwal, 55 in DG Khan, 45 in Rahim Yar Khan, 40 in Layyah and 35 in Rajanpur.
The official said the major worry was shortage of manpower required for extensive spray and fogging in the targeted areas.
“The health department is grappling with shortage of employees since the government banned recruitment of even daily wagers,” he lamented.
He said the targeted fogging, spray and Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) were the only immediate solution to fight the disease. He said the health authorities had launched efforts for the treatment of infected patients with the support of the World Health Organization.
“The drug was not available at the district and tehsil levels but the WHO has provided it now,” the official claimed.
The drug is injected twice a week to ensure recovery and it is followed by next doses.
Answering a question, the official said the disease had entered Punjab from the districts situated on the borders of other provinces.