Dengue infects thousands this month

Cases increasing at a terrifyingly rapid rate across province


Our Correspondent October 24, 2021

KARACHI:

Cases of dengue virus are on rise once again as October draws to a close. During the past 23 days of the month, over 1,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported.

According to data released by the Sindh health department, a total of 59 cases of dengue have been reported during the past 24 hours across the province, out of 43 are in Karachi.

From October 1 to 21, a total of 1,139 cases of dengue virus have been reported in Sindh. Meanwhile, 608 cases have been reported in Karachi from October 1 to 21. In the month, 138 cases were reported in Central, 151 in Eastern, 133 in Korangi, 80 in South, 60 in West and 46 in Malir distircts. In September, 603 cases of dengue were reported from the province.

This is a sharp rise in the final quarter of the year as from January to August 2021, there were a total of 1,365 cases of dengue virus reported. So far this year, 3,107 cases of dengue virus have been recorded in the province, while six deaths have been reported to date on 2021.

In the corresponding period last year, there was also a rapid increase in the number of dengue cases with over 900 being reported in October 2020 alone. At the time, 975 cases were reported of which 927 were from Karachi. The city's East district reported the highest number of dengue cases, followed by South and Central.

At the time, Dengue Control Programme Manager Dr Iqbal Memon told The Express Tribune that a rapid increase was noted in the last two weeks of October.

The virus seems to be following a similar pattern this year. In 2020, the worst affected areas included Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Jamshed Town in the East district. Other districts such as North Nazimabad were among the localities with the higher cluster of cases last year.

According to Memon, an increase in the dengue virus is noted across the world in the months of September, October and November, not just Pakistan.

Spraying suspended

It was reported last month that the sudden suspension of routine pesticide sprays in Sindh led to increased breeding of mosquitoes, flies and other disease causing insects in the province. Various allergies and zoonotic illnesses appeared to be on the rise, especially in the port city of Karachi.

The provincial capital had become a breeding ground for virus-carrying mosquitoes in the absence of any mitigation campaigns. The situation, said health experts, had only worsened since the last monsoon, which catapulted the spread of Aedes mosquitoes, known for causing dengue fever in Pakistan. Disease experts said the dengue season begins with the start of monsoon and usually lasts from September to December.

The mosquitoes breed and lay eggs in moist, rain-fed soil around streams and standing water, but the disease usually subsides at the onset of the winter season. "So it is crucial for routine pesticide sprays to take place during the monsoon season and after, when the disease is at its strongest," said one expert.

In this regard, Officials of Sindh's Dengue Control and Prevention Programme say that there are dengue focal persons present in all six districts of Karachi.

In 2013, Sindh saw a huge number of dengue cases with over 5,970 infected persons and 32 deaths. From then on, the number of infected persons largely ranged between 1,200 and 3,000 cases each year. However, the disease took its most damaging toll in the summer of 2019 when cases surged to a record high of 16,925 reported and 46 deaths.

Sources claimed that pesticide sprays were only carried out upon accumulation of complaints, following which the insects are once again left to spawn and infest. According to the provincial health department's round-up of persons infected with dengue fever in the last decade, Sindh reported over 4,072 infections and 25 deaths in the year 2010.

In 2011, the number significantly dropped to 1,079 people with 18 deaths, while in 2012, the downward slope continued with only 734 reported cases of dengue and four deaths.

Among the city's six districts, the aforementioned report of the provincial health department's study on vector borne diseases found Jamshed Town, Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Gulzar-e-Hijri in the East district, DHA, Lyari and Clifton in the South district, Site Area and Orangi Town in West, Shah Faisal, Korangi, Malir and Bin Qasim in Korangi district, and North Karachi and Gulberg in the Central district, to be the most prominent hotbeds for dengue-causing mosquitoes in Karachi.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2021.

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