Post-rain dengue outbreak feared in Peshawar

Rain ruins govt's plans to reduce standing fresh water areas where mosquitoes may breed

Umer Farooq September 11, 2017

PESHAWAR: Although rain is considered to be a blessing, it has only proved to be the opposite for the authorities involved in the anti-dengue campaign run in Peshawar. At least 20 people have lost their lives, to dengue since July, including two that died from the infection on Sunday.

Officials involved in the campaign were disheartened and claimed that they had declared around 100,000 houses safe from the virus. It literally rained on their parade, as standing rainwater could lead to another dengue outbreak.

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“Our efforts have been flushed away and we expect an increase in dengue cases. Mercury levels have also dropped post rain, which is a catalyst for the egg to larvae process of a mosquito’s life cycle,” said Peshawar’s Deputy Commissioner (DC) Saqib Raza Aslam.

Aslam said teams worked tirelessly even through Eid and all areas were fumigated so that eggs could not float on fresh water bodies and turn into larvae. “We have not lost hope and will double the efforts involved to avoid another outbreak,” he added.

The DC also went on to state that they will remove stagnant water from the streets but people also have to cooperate and keep their vicinities free from fresh standing water. “We have tried to teach families how conducive fresh stagnant water is to the breeding of dengue mosquitos but to no avail. People still have tyres and other things in their houses where water becomes a breeding ground,” explained Aslam.

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“If you unwittingly breed mosquitoes in your household, the first people they will bite are the occupants of the house. Ensuring that rain water is cleaned up inside their houses is the responsibility of the residents,” said Dr Iftikharuddin – an assistant professor at Mardan’s Bacha Khan Medical College and a member of the Dengue Response Unit.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Engineer Hamidul Haq’s wife and son have tested positive for dengue. It was reported that while anti-dengue teams were making rounds, Haq barred them from entering his house.

The wife and son are both being treated at Khyber Teaching Hospital and are said to be in stable condition with satisfactory platelet counts.

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“You cannot eradicate a disease over-night but we are on the right track,” said another senior health officer, while adding “we are focusing on the future since we realise that it is not enough to overcome the issue just now. If we do not act accordingly, we fear for a bigger outbreak in late February 2018, which may claim many lives.”

About 1,679 people were tested for dengue, out of which 312 tested positive for the virus. Only 102 people required hospitalisation and 96 people have already been discharged from different medical facilities across Peshawar.

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