Dengue Season Is Back: Pakistan Prepares


Dengue fever is caused by one of four different but related viruses. It is spread by the bite of mosquitoes, most commonly the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which is found in tropic and subtropic and the Caribbean regions, usually during the rainy seasons in areas with high numbers of infected mosquitoes. Asia-Pacific countries have more than 70% of the disease burden. Dengue fever can be caused by any one of four types of dengue virus: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4. A person can be infected by at least two, if not all four types at different times during a life span, but only once by the same type.

Dengue fever begins with a sudden high fever, often as high as 104 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 to 7 days after the infection. A flat, red rash may appear over most of the body 2 – 5 days after the fever starts with intense headache, joint and muscle pain and a rash. Mild bleeding of the nose or gums may occur. A second rash, which looks like the measles, appears later in the disease. Infected people may have increased skin sensitivity and are very uncomfortable. The hemorrhagic form of dengue fever is more severe and associated with loss of appetite, vomiting, high fever, headache, difficulty breathing and abdominal pain. Shock and circulatory failure may occur. Untreated hemorrhagic dengue results in death in 40 to 50 percent of cases.

Dengue disease occurs more frequently in the rainy season and immediately afterwards (July to October) in Pakistan. Mosquitoes pick up a dengue virus when they bite a human who is already infected with the virus. The mosquito then carries it in its own blood and spreads it when it bites other humans.

The Dengue virus is present in the blood of the patient suffering from Dengue fever. Whenever an Aedes mosquito bites a patient of Dengue fever, it sucks blood and along with it, the Dengue virus into its body. The virus undergoes further development in the body of the mosquito for a few days. When the virus containing mosquito bites a normal human being, the virus is injected into the person’s body and he/she becomes infected and can develop symptoms of Dengue fever.

According to an estimation by Today, about 2.5 billion (2/5 of the world population) are at risk from dengue, and 50 million are infected worldwide annually, with a mortality rate ranging from 1 percent to 2.5 percent, for those who receive treatment, according to WHO statistics. For those without treatment, the death rate could be 20 percent (one in 5) or higher. The vector (carrier) mosquitoes inhabit and rapidly breed in stagnant pools of water or in tanks of drinking or bath water in the backyard of homes, which makes the situation more dangerous. They do not thrive in dirty contaminated water as some may think.

The disease is more widespread during the rainy season.

The elimination of dengue is the responsibility of each and every citizen in every site, villages and towns in the country. The Department of Health, its regional centres and allied agencies are impotent without the people’s help. To rely on these agencies alone, without doing our share, will be a costly mistake.

The only hope we have to stamp out Dengue is to eliminate the mosquitoes ourselves. Each community must wage an all-out war against the harbinger of this deadly disease. This can be accomplished only by an aggressive community action, led by village and town leaders and with the help of each and every member of the community, to eliminate all the breeding sites of mosquitoes in their midst. This is the only effective strategy.

Let’s get organised, “bite” back, and wipe out this potentially fatal infection, to which no one is immune, and for which there is no cure. Let’s save our children and ourselves. Too many lives have already been lost. Let’s not wait for a fatality within our own family before we start cleaning our own backyard.

Dengue is very much related to environmental conditions and when conditions seems suitable to mosquitoes they spread easily all four types of viruses to attack the low immune victims. Proper environmental management is the key to avoiding a quarter of all preventable illnesses that are directly caused by environmental factors. The environment influences our health in many ways – due to exposures to physical, chemical and biological risk factors, or through related changes in our behaviour in response to those factors. Each year, thirteen million deaths are due to preventable environmental causes. Preventing environmental risk can save as many as four million lives a year, predominantly in developing countries, among children aged less than 15 years.

There have been 73 confirmed cases of dengue in Lahore and 13 other regions of the state of Punjab. Samples of cases were sent to the Advisory Committee for verification. According to the Ministry of Health, was reported 53 cases of dengue in Lahore, Shekihepura and 5, and 3 in Gujranwala, Sialkot and 2, while several other regions,according to one case each. According to experts, and steps must be taken immediately to stop the spread of dengue. Ministry of Health estimates that several teams working in the state of Punjab to stop the spread of the disease.

The efforts of all the departments, experience of experts, cooperation of the community and support of the World Health Organization (WHO) would help combat the any possible attack of dengue fever in the future as well. Last year the dengue virus was a calamity and the Pakistani government had no experience to cope with the virus.

The provincial government is fully prepared to deal with the possible outbreak of dengue, practicable actions are applied all over the country. The Punjab chief minister said the Punjab government had saved lives of the people by utilising all the departmental resources in an organized manner to control the dengue last year. Rawalpindi city managers decided to start fumigating the 175 union councils of the Rawalpindi district, except Rawal Town, from last week. All the graveyards, government universities, colleges, schools, hostels and official buildings will be covered through the campaign.

“We have issued directives to all the 27 district health officers to carry out insecticide spraying to kill mosquitoes. They have also been issued directives to inform the provincial health directorate in case of any suspected patient,” said Khaber Pakhtoonkhawan’s director-general of health service, Dr. Sharif Ahmed Khan.

The same positive action should be soon taken in the remaining two provinces of Pakistan.

Clean environment is the basic right of every human being and the national image could also improve by maintaining cleanliness in the cities, which further reduce the spreading of diseases. In the case of Dengue Fever, proper clothing, mosquito repellent, and netting can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes. Travelling during periods of minimal mosquito activity can also be helpful. Mosquito abatement programs may reduce the risk of infection.

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