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November 12, 2019

Infectious diseases claim four more lives


November 12, 2019

Karachiites do not yet seem to be fortunate enough to get any respite from infectious diseases: the brain-eating bug Naegleria fowleri, the mosquito-borne dengue virus, the tick-borne disease Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) and full-blown rabies have claimed one person each as their victim.

N Fowleri death toll: 16

Despite the weather turning a little bit cold in the city, N fowleri claimed the life of a man early on Monday morning. He had been brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) with high-grade fever, restlessness and extreme discomfort a few days ago.

“Wakeel Khan, 27, a resident of New Karachi, died early Monday morning. He had tested positive for the infection caused by Naegleria fowleri. Analysis of his CSF [cerebrospinal fluid] confirmed that he was infected with the brain-eating bug,” JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali told The News.

Sindh Health Department officials said it was the year’s 16th death due to primary amoebic meningoencephalitis caused by the freshwater amoeba N fowleri, which causes destruction of the brain and its linings once it manages to enter the central nervous system of a person through their nostrils.

The officials, however, expressed their astonishment over the case of Naegleria fowleri infection in the month of November. They said that this amoeba usually becomes active and infects people in the summer, when the temperature rises above 35 degrees Celsius. They stressed taking measures for the water’s chlorination.

Dengue death toll: 31

Dengue fever also continues to haunt the people in the city, as a young man died due to complications of the mosquito-borne illness at a private hospital on Monday.

“Nadir Ali, 32, a resident of Nazimabad, was taken to the Aga Khan University Hospital [AKUH] this past Friday. He died yesterday due to dengue shock syndrome and multi-organ failure,” said an official of the Dengue Prevention & Control Programme.

The health department official said that with the latest death due to dengue fever, the year’s death toll because of the mosquito-borne illness has risen to 31, adding that hundreds of people are still being infected with the dengue virus in different parts of the city.

Health experts have advised the people to remain vigilant and cautious of dengue fever. They have also asked everyone to take every precautionary measure, including the use of mosquito repellents and mosquito nets, to protect themselves and their children from contracting the lethal viral disease.

CCHF death toll: 16

Congo fever also resulted in the death of a young man at the AKUH. He had been brought to the health facility from Chachro Tehsil of Tharparkar, said a health official, adding that this was the 16th death due to the tick-borne viral disease this year.

“Sunil Kumar, 36, a livestock handler and a resident of Chachro district of Tharparkar, had developed high-grade fever and was taken to Hyderabad, from where he was shifted to the AKUH on Saturday.

The ill-fated man died this morning due to complications of the disease,” said an official of the health department on Monday.

Rabies death toll: 22

Rabies encephalitis resulted in the death of a young man at the JPMC on Sunday. He had been bitten by a stray dog some three months ago but he could not be vaccinated due to the absence of the rabies vaccine at most of the health facilities in the province.

“Zahoor Khan, 18, a resident of Nooriabad town of Jamshoro, who had developed full-blown rabies, died yesterday at the JPMC’s isolation ward. We did everything to provide him comfort in his last moments, as nothing can be done for patients of full-blown rabies,” said Dr Seemin on Monday.

Free dengue test camps

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail on Monday launched an initiative with the support of the private sector, under which camps have been established in ten spots of the city to conduct free tests for dengue fever and also to spread awareness among the people about this alarming health epidemic, adds our correspondent.

Ismail himself inaugurated one such camp on the premises of the Governor House, where the staff of the Governor’s Secretariat and other people got their tests for dengue fever done free of charge.

The governor said on the occasion that the testing facilities in the city would conduct the dengue test for free, as it is otherwise conducted at a cost of up to Rs1,600 for each of the suspected patient.

He said that everyone concerned was required to work together to make the anti-dengue campaign successful, adding that sanitary conditions had to be improved to counter the spread of dengue fever.

He also said the Sindh government was under obligation to take concrete steps to counter the spread of dengue fever in the province, adding that the federal administration was always available to provide support wherever required.

“I don’t know whether or not dengue fever will be controlled through these camps, but the anti-dengue campaign will surely get a boost as a result of this initiative,” Ismail said while answering a question.

To a query regarding reports of locust swarms in many areas of Karachi, he said the locust attack in the city was like a natural calamity, adding that the provincial government should take concrete steps to counter it. He reiterated that the Centre would provide every possible support.

Responding to another question, the governor said he had received the Coastal Development Authority (Amendment) Bill for his consent. The bill was passed by the provincial assembly last month.

Ismail said he had consulted with the Federal Ministry of Maritime Affairs on the bill, adding that the ministry had provided certain suggestions. He said he had asked the provincial government to consult the Centre on the matter.

Answering another query, Ismail said if the Pakistan Peoples Party wanted the forming of a medical board for the health of former president Asif Ali Zardari, it should submit a written application for that. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPAs Khurrum Sher Zaman and Shahzad Qureshi were also present on the occasion.