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Editorial

April 21, 2017

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Another outbreak

Another outbreak

As if dengue and malaria were not enough, the coastal areas of Karachi have been hit by yet another mosquito-borne virus with at least 840 cases of suspected chikungunya disease reported this year till April 15. More cases of suspected infection come in daily at hospitals. The viral sickness is caused by the same species of mosquito which carries the dengue and zika viruses. A key reason for the spread of this mosquito is unsanitary conditions and a failure to fumigate areas or ensure that no water is left standing. Out of the over 1720 cases which reached Karachi hospitals, suspected chikungunya samples from 215 patients were sent to the National Institute of Health in Islamabad. Of these, 198 have been confirmed as being positive for the viral sickness, which is not fatal but causes symptoms including severe body aches, headache and fever. The WHO is currently working with the Sindh health department to try and control the outbreak. Medical experts report that no specific drug is available to treat this disease and the focus is on controlling symptoms.

A similar outbreak of the same sickness was reported from Karachi in December last year. City authorities concede there has been a failure to control the growth of mosquitoes particularly in areas which lie close to the sea. Most of the cases reported in Karachi are from Malir, Kemari, Ibrahim Haidri and other similar locations. The majority of cases, 640, have come in from Malir – one of the most under-developed areas in the city, like other coastal areas which have been affected. It is quite evident that more effort is required from municipal authorities to bring down the number of mosquitoes and prevent them from breeding. At the same time, it is also necessary to educate people better about the need to keep themselves safe from mosquito bites by using netting and avoiding allowing water to remain standing at any location within their homes. Recognition of the symptoms is also important so that correct treatment can be initiated and panic avoided. Doctors and medical staff at hospitals also need to be made familiar with the virus and the signs that it has inflicted a patient so that proper treatment measures can be begun.

 

 

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