KARACHI, Sept 30: Almost half the districts in the province are now in the grip of the mosquito-borne dengue fever while the number of patients of the disease across the province has almost doubled over the past two weeks, it emerged on Friday.

The latest figures released by the provincial dengue surveillance cell showed that 567 patients either suspected to be or confirmed of suffering from dengue fever were admitted to various public and private sector hospitals or seen in hospitals out-patient departments in Karachi and 13 other districts of the province since January 2011.

The maximum number of patients was reported in Karachi. Of the 499 suspected patients, 370 (74 per cent) were found positive for dengue fever, while five of them, including three women, lost their lives due to dengue fever in the city.

According to the data, Dadu, Khairpur and Jamshoro have reported one dengue positive case each so far.

The number of districts in the province, other than Karachi, which are now considered to be infected with the dengue virus increased from eight to 13 between Sept 16 and Sept 30.

A total of 68 patients were admitted to hospitals in the province (excluding Karachi district) with symptoms of dengue fever till Friday, of which 66 (97 per cent) were confirmed dengue positive cases.

The dengue surveillance cell had reported 251 suspected patients and out of them 235 were tested positive till September 16.

The overall proportion of dengue positive cases in the suspected cases of dengue fever and patients admitted to hospitals in the province, which are reporting to the Sindh health department’s surveillance cell, remained around 77 per cent on Friday.

A health expert said that the gap between the suspected and confirmed cases was narrowing and as such the health department as well as the relevant authorities at district and town levels should move fast against the disease and launch a proper investigation into the cases.

The dengue positive patients’ location, occupation, family, activities and overall hygienic, sanitation and preventive conditions should be studied so that an effective fumigation and in-house spray of insecticides could be carried out in and around the house and the area infected by the dengue virus, the health expert added.

Mapping of mosquito breeding sites in the infected areas was also suggested as the adult surveillance was labour intensive, the expert added.

In the meantime, there has been no let-up in the emergence of dengue fever cases in the metropolis.

The dengue surveillance cell reported 36 new admissions and confirmation of another 26 positive cases on Friday.

In the interior of Sindh, according to the surveillance report, a maximum 19 dengue positive cases have been reported from Tando Mohammad Khan, followed by Hyderabad (17), Ghotki (8), Naushahro Feroze (4), Sukkur (4), Larkana (3), Nawabshah (2), Sanghar (2), Tando Allahyar (2) and Umerkot (2).

The director-general of health, Sindh, Dr Hafeezul Haq Memon, told Dawn that since the dengue transmitting mosquitoes bred and survived in urban and semi-urban localities and that too in houses, and he personally believed that internally-displaced people and districts submerged by floodwater would not be affected by the dengue virus.

In the cases of urban centre, management of the dengue epidemic was fully being ensured and preventive measures to contain the disease in the comings days were also being taken, Dr Memon added.

He said that health officials were also ensuring required house-to-house spray in the areas from where dengue fever positive cases were being reported.

The city hospitals where dengue fever cases have been reported during the year included the Aga Khan University Hospital (151 patients), the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (114), the Sindh Govt Qatar Hospital (52), the Civil hospital (67), the Dr Ziauddin Hospital (32), the Govt Services Hospital (24) the Jinnah hospital (13), the National Institute of Blood Diseases (13), the Liaquat National Hospital (15), the OMI Hospital (8), the Zainab Panjwani (6), and the Sindh Government Liaquatabad (2 patients).

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