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August 8, 2016

All set for an expected dengue fever outbreak

Islamabad

August 8, 2016

Rawalpindi

The stage is almost all set for a possible outbreak of dengue fever in this region of the country as almost all risk factors considered important for appearance of seasonal dengue fever including rains, rising temperature, humidity and infected travellers or natives are very much in existence while the heaps of garbage and rubbish dumps existing in a number of localities in the region may add fuel to the fire.

Data collected by ‘The News’ has revealed that well over 30 confirmed patients of dengue fever have already been reported at the three allied hospitals in Rawalpindi, while in Islamabad, more than five patients have been tested positive for the infection, as the peak season for transmission of the infection in the region has yet to be set in.

It is important that during the last 10 years, the population in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi faced the worst ever dengue fever outbreak last year, in 2015 with more than 4,500 confirmed patients reported at the public sector hospitals of the twin cities.

Many health experts have repeatedly expressed to ‘The News’ that this year both the concerned authorities and the individuals have to take extraordinary measures to avoid a possible outbreak of dengue fever as unlike the past, this year, the first cases of dengue fever appeared in June and July. In routine, the first cases appear in this region of the country by the end of July or in the middle of August while sporadic cases, reported before August do not cross the figure of 10 generally.

The eggs laid down by mosquitoes ‘aedes aegypti’ and ‘aedes albopictus’, the vectors for dengue fever could not be checked from hatching and the appearance of a number of positive cases of the infection before August hints that the dengue fever vector is existing in abundance in this region of the country, said a top official at ICT Health Department pleading anonymity.

It is important that usually, ‘aedes aegypti’ lay the first eggs of the year at the beginning of May and the mosquito density is maximal in early July, late August and early September while the egg laying activity remains until November though the larval density reaches to its peak in September.

Health experts have repeatedly expressed to ‘The News’ after the most severe outbreak of the infection in 2015 that the need of the time is to remove heaps of garbage and unnecessary water accumulations properly from the region to safeguard population from a more severe dengue fever outbreak that would be with more chances of hemorrhagic manifestations as the disease is expected to re-appear in the months from August to November in 2016.

The concerned government authorities, however, seemed to have paid no heed to the opinion and the solid waste management remained poor throughout the year from January to date and it is evident from the existing situation as one can witness heaps of garbage and rubbish dumps on a number of points in district Rawalpindi and in rural areas of the federal capital.

According to health experts and epidemiologists, still a lot can be done to avoid a possible outbreak of dengue fever that otherwise seems to be around the corner.

Experts say that a surge in dengue fever cases is expected after the rains when an outbreak is already occurring in adjoining areas, districts or other parts of the country and it is time when we can start social mobilisation to contact community to look for sites and places inside or outside homes that can attract rain water and provide a favourable place for the female ‘aedes mosquitoes’ to lay eggs.

Experts believe that through awareness campaigns, community can be convinced to keep vigilance and once individuals start destroying the possible breeding sites mechanically, the chances of the outbreak would certainly be lesser.

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