Wednesday February 21, 2024

NIH issues advisories against three diseases

By Our Correspondent
May 24, 2019

Islamabad: In view of the hyperactive season of mosquitoes and previous seasonal trends of vector-borne diseases, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has issued advisories for the prevention and control of dengue fever and chikungunya, plus an advisory on Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM), also called Naegleriasis. The purpose is to sensitise human and animal health care authorities to further strengthen the level of preparedness in the prevention and control of these diseases.

Dengue Fever is endemic in almost all geographical regions of Pakistan and there is substantial evidence that its multiple stereotypes are circulating in different areas of the country. Despite patchy surveillance, 3,204 cases of dengue fever were reported in Pakistan during 2018. It is imperative to work on prevention while staying vigilant for detection of cases and ensuring preparedness to launch response activities for curtailing transmission. The advisory is, therefore, intended to facilitate healthcare authorities and professionals in effectively dealing the potential challenge during the next few months.

Following an outbreak of chikungunya in Karachi in 2017 and subsequent detection of travel-associated cases, the disease is now endemic in many parts of the country. It is imperative to take preventive measures while staying vigilant to pick suspected cases, confirm the disease, and take steps to interrupt further transmission.

PAM or Naegleriasis is a disease of the central nervous system caused by the free-living ameba Naegleriafowleri. Although considered rare globally, the disease is almost invariably fatal. Deaths related to PAM have been regularly reported from tertiary care hospitals of Karachi during summers since 2008. Despite surveillance limitations, a total of 88 cases are on record in Pakistan in the last 10 years with a case fatality rate of 100%.

During this year, Karachi has reported three deaths due to Naegleriasis. To mitigate the risks associated with the hot season ahead, it is imperative that immediate and long-term preventive measures be taken in mega cities, particularly Karachi.

Vigilant surveillance is also imperative to pick suspected cases for disease confirmation and to ensure aggressive measures to interrupt further transmission.

The advisories, which have been issued by the Field Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Division (FEDSD) are available at the NIH website.