Countrywide dengue cases nearing 50,000

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By Ikram Junaidi

ISLAMABAD: Dengue outbreak has set a new record with the number of reported cases surging to 49,587 in the country during the current year, taking a leap of over 5,000 cases in less than two weeks.

It’s nearly double of the maximum number of Pakistanis infected with dengue in a year over the past decade, as prev iously the highest number of cases was reported eight years ago. In 2011, 27,000 people had been infected with dengue.

However, the previous death toll was 370, over four times of this year’s 79 mortalities.

Explaining major reasons for the surge in number of reported cases this year, the spokesperson for the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), Sajid Shah, said: “This year unprecedented number of dengue cases has been reported across the globe. Besides, the mechanism of recording the cases has improved across the country.”

Pakistan’s statistics are much better than other countries, says NHS spokesperson

According to a document available with Dawn, during the current year 49,587 cases of dengue have been confirmed from across the country. As many as 13,173 cases were reported from Islamabad, 13,251 from Sindh, 9,855 from Punjab, 7,776 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 3,217 cases from Balochistan. Besides, 1,690 cases were reported from Azad Jammu and Kashmir while 625 cases were placed in the ‘other’ category. The ‘other’ category indicates the cases whose origin could not be found.

No death was reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan while as many as 22 dengue patients died in the federal capital. Of the remaining 57 cases, 33 persons died in the province of Sindh, 20 in Punjab, three in Balochistan and one died in AJK.

Mr Shah explained the World Health Organisation had included dengue in the top 10 global public health threats to the world. This year, he said, 371,717 dengue cases and 1,407 deaths had been reported in the Philippines till Nov 5. In Sri Lanka, 234,078 cases and over 100 deaths had been reported till Oct 23. Similarly, 146,000 cases and 89 deaths in Thailand, 124,751 cases and 15 deaths in Vietnam, 104,950 cases and 204 deaths in Malaysia, 122,136 cases and 104 deaths had been reported in Bangladesh till the second week of October, he said.

Sharing Pan American Health Organisation data, Mr Shah said 2.07 million cases and 702 deaths had been confirmed in Brazil, 213,822 cases and 108 deaths in Mexico, 157,573 cases and 26 deaths in Nicaragua, 106,066 cases and 74 deaths in Colombia, and 96,379 cases and 156 deaths had been reported in Honduras till Nov 14.

“It is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) has been activated at the National Institute of Health for dengue outbreak. Our statistics are much better than other countries, but our task is not over. Based on recent experience, we will develop a comprehensive multisectoral national action plan in coordination with the provinces and will defeat dengue within the next few years,” Mr Shah claimed.

Dengue is spread by the mosquito bite and patients face deficiency of platelets due to which transfusion of platelets is required as patient’s blood does not have the normal clotting ability. If timely treatment is not provided, the disease may turn into life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever. Fever may lead to bleeding, low levels of platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome– a dangerously low blood pressure.

Pakistan has experienced many dengue outbreaks since the first outbreak in 1994. During the past two decades, two major outbreaks were reported in the country. In 2005, over 6,000 cases with 52 deaths were reported from Karachi, while in 2011, more than 21,000 cases were reported from Lahore only with 350 deaths. Between 2011 and 2014 more than 48,000 confirmed cases of dengue were reported from across the country.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2019

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