Dengue returns

September 13, 2019

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FOLLOWING heavy rainfall in many parts of the country, there have been reports of a dengue epidemic in some parts due to the presence of stagnant water bodies and the lack of sanitation in low-lying areas. The cities of Karachi, Peshawar and Rawalpindi have been particularly hit hard this time around, as hospitals struggle to accommodate the sudden influx of patients. Last week, a man in Karachi who was already suffering from hepatitis B tragically succumbed to the illness, becoming the eighth dengue-related fatality in the city since the start of the year. According to officials, there have been almost 1,700 cases of the disease in Sindh, with the vast majority recorded in Karachi. In Peshawar, over 1,200 cases had been detected in less than a month, primarily in the rural parts, which had also been some of the worst-affected areas during the 2017 dengue outbreak in the provincial capital. Just this week, at least 25 new cases were reported at the Khyber Teaching Hospital. Additionally, the various hospitals of Rawalpindi have seen around 1,000 dengue patients since January, though many were reportedly discharged soon after receiving treatment. Last year, the health department found the dengue larvae inside 940 houses in the city after the district administration had reportedly failed to conduct the necessary fogging operations. Other parts of Punjab, including Lahore, have also seen a sudden spike in dengue cases — and figures throughout the country are expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks.

The symptoms of the mosquito-borne disease can vary from mild to severe, and include high fever, headaches, vomiting, nausea, muscle and joint pain, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and heavy loss of blood. Hospitals and blood banks struggle to provide adequate amounts of platelets to patients. Along with carrying out regular fumigation and ensuring cleanliness, the government must encourage campaigns that promote blood donation and platelet transfusion in such times.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2019