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Karachi

April 18, 2017

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840 cases reported in April, 198 test positive for virus

840 cases reported in April, 198 test positive for virus

An outbreak of the mosquito-borne viral disease Chikungunya was confirmed in city’s coastal areas after around 840 people were reported by health authorities to have contracted the virus in the first 15 days of April only. Of these, 198 patients were confirmed to have contracted the virus by the National Institute of Health in Islamabad.

The areas from where the highest numbers of cases were reported include Ibrahim Hyderi, Keamari, Malir and Lyari among others. “The NIH, Islamabad tested 198 people positive for the mosquito-borne virus,” Karachi Director Health Karachi Dr Muhammad Taufiq informed The News.

The disease is non-lethal and is caused by the ‘Aedes Aegypti’ mosquito. It also carries the Dengue and Zika viruses. Its symptoms include high fever, severe pain in joints and muscles, headache, nausea, fatigue and body rashes.

“In the first 15 days of April alone, 840 persons were brought to various public and private hospitals on suspicion of having Chikungunga infection,” Dr Taufiq said. Most of the cases were reported from areas known for having poor sanitary conditions, he added. 

“Controlling the outbreak of the virus only lies in extensive fumigation of the areas by the municipal authorities. It is the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) job to improve sanitary conditions and keep the city clean to prevent an outbreak of such vector-borne diseases,” the director health maintained.

Another official in the Sindh Health Department informed that a total of 1,740 people have been brought to hospitals with Chikungunya symptoms since December 19, last year – an outbreak of the disease was reported in Malir after hundreds of people were confirmed to have contracted the infection.

“I have a list of around 1,740 people who were brought to the hospitals, blood samples of around 260 of them were sent to the NIH, Islamabad,” the official claimed. The highest number of cases, 664, were reported from Malir followed by 320 cases in Ibrahim Hyderi, 286 in Keamari, 260 from Bin Qasim Town, whereas 136 and 70 cases were reported from Orangi Town and Lyari respectively.

“Of the 1,740, both the genders were found to have been affected in equal ratio. Most of the patients were aged between 30-39 years even though it is the children and elderly who are usually affected by the mosquito-borne infection,” the health department official claimed.

Provincial officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) also confirmed the virus’s outbreak in Karachi. According to their data maintained till April 14, around 1,419 cases of Chikungunya had been reported; 215 blood samples were sent to the NIH Islamabad out of them 169 were confirmed to have the mosquito-borne disease.

“WHO is in close coordination with the Regional Disease Surveillance and Response Unit (RDSRU-Sindh) and is providing them with necessary support including setting up an advisory council, providing them with pamphlets and posters written in local languages,” Dr Sara Salman, head of WHO Sindh, said in response to queries regarding the infection’s outbreak.

Citing WHO and Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Atlanta’s guidelines, renowned physician Dr Zeeshan Ansari said there was no specific anti-viral drug treatment for Chikungunya yet. “Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, such as administering paracetamol to patients for joint pains, anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids for other symptoms.” Those infected with the disease were advised by Dr Ansari to have plenty of rest, fluids, and use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve acute pain and fever.

 

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