KARACHI, Sept 14: With Punjab struggling to cope with the dengue fever crisis, health experts on Wednesday feared that Karachi and other cities of Sindh might face regular outbreaks of the mosquito-borne disease soon.

They said that dengue cases tended to increase with an alarming proportion during the post-rain period in Karachi. Therefore, they stressed the need for taking serious preventive measures by the civic and health agencies with a responsible community response to avert a possible outbreak in the wake of heavy rains.

According to data given by the provincial dengue surveillance cell, which is controlled by the Sindh health department, the number of confirmed dengue cases reported so far this year across the province reached 214 till Wednesday.

By Sept 7, the number of such cases was 181 and during the last seven days 33 more such cases were reported which indicated that on an average 4.7 patients were detected with dengue fever every day.

Government and private hospitals in the city showed an increase in dengue cases reporting during the last few days. Karachi has so far reported 199 suspected cases out of which 187 were found positive for the dengue virus.

In the interior of Sindh 27 dengue positive cases were reported.

A total of 36 patients, including 30 of Karachi, were admitted to various hospitals in five districts of Sindh.

Independent sources, however, said that the figures pertaining to dengue patients would have been high if the working of government health officials in the interior of Sindh was a bit more organised.In the given situation when a good part of the population is displaced due to rains and efforts were on to ensure relief for them, health officials were concentrating just on waterborne epidemics, diarrhoea, skin and eye infections.

In a situation when laboratory tests for dengue were not on the priority list, any real reporting of aedes aegypti (mosquito) victims could not be ensured, said a senior health practitioner.

Medical circles claimed that Sukkur and Hyderabad had a great number of reported and unreported cases.

Water stagnation in the interior of Sindh and many residential and commercial areas of Karachi, combined with inadequate civic and community response, could be blamed for the emerging situation, said Dr Rafiq Khanani, the president of the Infection Control Society Pakistan.

He commented that since Karachi had been facing the dengue outbreak in the previous years as well and people were more educated about the diseases and the required preventive measures, significant cases could be reported from areas which did not have exposure to the disease and had little immunity.

Talking to Dawn, the focal person of the Sindh government’s dengue surveillance cell, Dr Shakeel Mullick, said that the trend of confirmed dengue cases reported so far was almost like the previous years and the nature of the dengue infection in Karachi and the province would be known by the end of September.

He urged the hospitals both in the public and private sector not to show any laxity in reporting suspected and laboratory confirmed patients admitted to their facilities to the provincial cell or the district dengue cells.

In line with the international health regulation of 2005, hospitals and health practitioners were advised to report all infectious diseases cases to the respective health authorities, he added.

Support for fumigation drive sought

The Karachi District Coordination Officer, Mohammad Hussain Syed, urged the private and semi government institutions to extend their support to the city government’s fumigation campaign.

He said this at a meeting with the representatives of the cantonment boards, the Pakistan Railways, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Karachi Port Trust, the Port Qasim Authority, the DHA and Sui Southern Gas Company and Pakistan Steel on Wednesday.He said that the institutions should ensure fumigation in their respective areas or jurisdiction and also establish dengue cells at hospitals managed by them.

He urged the participants of the meeting to adopt dengue prevention measures.

He also asked the cantonment boards’ officials to ensure that water storage tanks should be regularly cleaned and kept in running condition.

On the other hand, it was also urged to close all swimming pools in their areas at least for a month.

He said a dengue ward established at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital would remain functional round the clock and doctors concerned could be approached via phone numbers 0331-263148.

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