Disastrous Dengue: Preventive measures and Iron-will needed

Dengue fever has been on the rise in the past few days, again. Pakistan has seen an outbreak many times before the current one but each year this disease seems to get stronger. According to WHO the first confirmed outbreak of dengue was in the year 1994 but the annual epidemic was not seen till the year 2005 when there was a sudden surge of confirmed cases in Karachi.

Since 2010, thousands of cases have been confirmed with hundreds of deaths. Lahore has been the most affected city as greenery surrounds the city. Like other vertically transmitted diseases, dengue is also a disease that has many dimensions to it. The disease itself is just a tip of the iceberg with a bigger problem like lack of infrastructure and drainage etc submerged hidden from the view.

Dengue is a viral infection caused by the bite of commonly known species of mosquito, Aedes Aegypti, and Aedes albopticus, which usually thrive in the stagnant waters. Since the city lacks proper infrastructure, the breeding grounds in the form of puddles and potholes on the roads are usual sight. This infection is caused by one of the four types of viruses DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, DENV-4. There is an interesting fact about these types though. Usually, if someone is infected with any of these types, they become immune to that specific type, however other types can still cause the disease.

WHO has helped formulate the national guidelines to combat this epidemic. The three focus areas are vector control (killing the mosquitoes and destroying their breeding places), case management (appropriate care to the patient) and community awareness. But nothing will work if all the activities are done separately. So the government has to do more than just “ONE TIME” city cleaning drives.

Symptoms of dengue, frequently observed includes high fever, muscles and body pain and pain behind the eyes. If the case worsens then hemorrhage can occur. This condition is called dengue hemorrhagic fever where a person can experience bleeding from gums, nose, abdominal pain and eventually death happens if not treated.

Precautionary measures for avoiding Dengue

Treatment for this condition is only symptomatic. Regular monitoring of platelets, regular infusion of fluids and pain killers are the only ways of treatment. But prevention is the most effective modality for this disease. Following steps can be taken to effectively reduce the incidence of this disease
• Try to have netted in the doors and windows of homes and offices
• Use mosquito repellent of the certified brand which contains 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin
• Wear light-colored clothing which should be full-sleeved
• Apply lids on open water tanks
• Some countries have vaccine available which can be used effectively as well

This disease can only be contained with prevention methods taken by an individual as well as proper steps from the Government and the stakeholders. Lets hope there is more done by the provincial governments as the provinces are the key stakeholder. Also at governmental level serious, immediate steps are required to be taken at the earliest. PML-N’s president Shehbaz Sharif really worked hard to get shut of this virus from Punjab. The recent surge in cases is worrisome and demands steps on war-footings.

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