KARACHI: Dengue fever cases have shown no let-up in the city and patients of all age groups are reporting at healthcare facilities in large numbers, it emerged on Tuesday.
The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the data released by the Sindh health department that says 3,686 cases have been recorded in the first two weeks of October compared to 1,742 cases reported during the same period last month.
Also, over a dozen deaths have been reported in Karachi in October alone. Of the total 15,072 cases reported in the province this year so far, 80 per cent of the total cases, or 12,183, are reported in Karachi alone Since May this year, at least 51 people — 46 in Karachi and five in interior parts of Sindh — have died from the vector-borne viral infection, which could easily be prevented by avoiding mosquito bite/s.
These deaths, sources said, were officially recorded, and experts believed that the number of unreported cases would be much higher given the poor reporting system of the health department.
Insufficient preventive measures
“There are multiple reasons for the high incidence of dengue fever cases including heavy monsoon and failure on part of the government, community as well as individuals to take preventive measures,” explained Dr Tehreem Ansari, head of the department of infectious diseases at Dow University Hospital, adding that fumigation drives benefitted communities only when they were timely carried out.
According to her, it’s not just dengue fever attracting concern these days, typhoid and malaria cases are also being reported in alarming numbers.
“At times, a patient reports with co-infections, which makes treatment challenging. Hence, it’s important that patients report to a qualified physician if they see that they have persistent fever and their condition is deteriorating,” she said.
Sources said the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) reported its first mortality from the dengue a week ago. The male patient in his 40s was a resident of Keamari.
The JPMC has treated over 90 in-house patients with the illness this month while in Sept, 180 patients were treated at the hospital.
“While there has been a drop in the number of infections being diagnosed at our laboratory, the number of admissions is still high. It’s might be due to patients preferring JPMC over other hospitals,” Dr Yahya Tunio, JPMC deputy executive director, shared, adding that the victim had dengue shock syndrome, a condition characterised by severe plasma leakage, bleeding and organ involvement.
According to experts, when treated, dengue haemorrhagic fever has a mortality rate of 2pc-5pc, but when left untreated, it might approach up to 50pc.
Non-severe dengue fever is characterised by a sudden onset of high fever associated with signs and symptoms including rash, severe aches and pains. Warning signs include abdominal pain or tenderness, persistent vomiting, clinical fluid accumulation, mucosal bleeding, lethargy, restlessness and liver enlargement.
Children being affected by dengue
At the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), a large number of children have been treated for the illness in recent months. No mortality so far has been reported, though.
“Right now, we have 15 to 20 patients under treatment. Children, mostly school and madressah students, are being brought to the facility, often with high-grade fever, acute back pain, vomiting and body rashes,” Dr Liaquat Ali Halo, NICH deputy director, told Dawn.
He rejected the myth associated with papaya leaves having cure for dengue fever and said its juice might make patient’s condition worse.
About the need for blood transfusion, he said platelet transfusion was a difficult, costly procedure that could lead to complications.
“Hence, we keep critical patients under close observation and carry out the procedure when most needed. Often, two to three donors are needed to get plasma enough for transfusion, which carries risk of infection. Moreover, the procedure can lead to suppression of bone marrow.”
It might be recalled that the city reported more than 6,000 cases of dengue fever in September. It was also the deadliest month in terms of dengue mortalities this year as it claimed over 30 lives.
Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2022