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Chikungunya cases in Malir hit 3,000

By our correspondents
December 20, 2016

Emergency declared at all hospitals in Malir and its adjoining areas because of the outbreak of mosquito-borne disease; fumigation drive also launched

Over 3,000 cases of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease similar to dengue and Zika, have been reported in the last few days at government- and privately-run hospitals in Malir.

Following the outbreak of the disease, the symptoms of which include fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and rashes, the provincial health authorities have declared a state of emergency in all public sector health facilities in Malir and its adjoining areas.

The provincial health authorities have yet to find out what caused the outbreak of chikungunya, for which there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat.

Karachi health director Dr Abdul Waheed Panhwar said most of the cases were being reported at the Sindh Government Hospital Saudabad and al-Mustafa Welfare Centre in Malir.

The health official added that the outbreak had caused panic among the residents of the area because of which they were rushing to hospitals even if they had a routine headache.

“Most patients have been sent back home after giving them initial medical attention and prescribing medicines for treating their symptoms. Those admitted to hospitals are being treated with medicines used for regular body ache and fever.”

Most of the patients suffering from chikungunya are being treated on emergency basis as they complain of very high fever and severe pain in joints. In some cases, patients are not even able to walk on their own.

The provincial health department has yet to form a special committee to investigate into the outbreak in Malir and its adjoining areas.

Provincial health minister Dr Sikandar Ali Mandhro visited the Sindh Govt Hospital Saudabad on Monday to monitor the treatment facilities available to patients there.

The medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr Rehana Bajwa, briefed the minister about the treatment being administered to the patients at her hospital.

The provincial minister met the patients, who told him that the hospital lacked sufficient facilities and medicines. The minister directed the officials concerned to rectify the situation on an emergency basis.

Dr Mandhro said mostly elderly people were contracting the diseases and most of the patients had been discharged after they felt better.

He conceded that the provincial authorities had yet to ascertain the reasons behind the outbreak.

He added that chickungunya was a disease of African origin and there was no medicine to treat it yet. “Cases of this viral disease have been reported in various parts of the world.”

The provincial minister said that health experts from Islamabad had been called to the city to find out the cause behind the outbreak.

The provincial health department had earlier requested the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme in Islamabad to send its experts to probe the chickungunya cases in Malir.

The blood samples of the patients were sent to Islamabad.

A committee of the World Health Organisation also visited the Saudabad Government Hospital and took blood samples to diagnose the disease.


Fumigation campaign

A fumigation drive has been launched in Malir as part of the mayor’s 100-day cleanliness campaign in the city, particularly keeping in view the outbreak of the disease there which is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes.

During the fumigation drive, Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar visited the Saudabad Government Hospital and ordered that effective measures should be taken for improving the conditions there.

He met with patients suffering from disease and inquired about their health.

There are also reports that cases of chickungunya have been reported in Shah Faisal Colony too.