Monsoon brings a flood of diseases to Punjab
Early heavy monsoon rainfall in the province that left ponds of water in many areas that have now become a breeding ground for Mosquitoes. More than 4,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in the past two months, with 30 being reported to have died. Dengue fever is a tropical disease caused by mosquitoes that breed in rain water or any other kind of stagnant water.
History of Dengue in Pakistan
Pakistan is not been new to Dengue disease but during the last few years it has started spreading rapidly especially during the monsoon season. The first case of Dengue was reported in Karachi in 1994 and after that it has been slowly slowly spreading towards the northern parts of Pakistan. In 2007, a rapid increase in Dengue cases were reported in Pakistan especially in Karachi and that year the diseases rapidly engulfed Lahore city.
Breeding season of Aedes Aegypti mosquito
Aedes Aegypti mosquito is a mosquito that causes Dengue, Chikungunya and yellow fever all over the world. It was first discovered in Africa but later it has also been found in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It usually breeds from July till September, however new cases have shown that it may also breed till early November depending upon high temperatures. The moment the temperature falls below 22 degrees centigrade, the growth of the aedes aegypti mosquito stops and soon after, the dengue season ends. In short, the breeding of these mosquitoes depend upon temperatures. Dengue could also be considered a seasonal disease with peaks during monsoon season.
Types of Dengue in Pakistan
There are four types of Dengue, with two major types. Since 2007, two types of dengue diseases occurred in Karachi while in 2008, another third type of Dengue disease occurred in Lahore and now in 2011 all four types of Dengue diseases are present in Punjab province;
- Dengue fever
- Dengue hemorrhagic fever
Dengue fever (DF): The symptoms of dengue fever are like severe, flu-like illness. DF usually affects infants, young children and adults. DF is rarely fatal.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF): DHF is a complication of the disease that can be fatal. It usually occurs if you have dengue infection more than once. The symptoms of DHF are similar to DF but the condition of the patient show rapid deterioration 2-5 days after the fever starts. If the disease is not severe, the signs and symptoms decrease after the fever resolves. Patients with severe disease can unexpectedly deteriorate after a few days of fever and develop bleeding from the nose, gums, mouth or in the skin, which leads to purplish bruises. In some of these patients after the fever resolves signs of circulatory failure (low blood pressure or shock) develops which can rapidly progress to severe shock or turn lead to death within 12 to 24 hours.
Lahore in the eyes of Dengue!
This year, Punjab has seen alarming rate of Dengue cases. Overall 4,000 people have been affected, each day at least 100 new case is registered in the Province. Almost all Dengue cases are being reported in the cultural capital almost every day. The government has once again appealed to the world leaders for helping them eradicate the disease. Sri Lanka was the first country to step in, the Sri Lankan government has been assisting Pakistan’s fight against dengue virus, by sending 11 expert doctors to the country. Foreigners are also affected in the province, mainly Chinese engineers. In the federal capital city of Islamabad, 32 cases have been reported while one person has died due to the dengue outbreak. Fresh monsoon rainfalls are also likely (September 14 night) in the province that could deteriorate the situation if the authorities fail to act in time.
Dengue may not remain confined to just northern Pakistan, but it could affect the rain-hit people of Sindh too, though reports have started coming that dengue has started in Sindh as well. Overall 270 people have died in Sindh due to extremely heavy downpour creating large stagnant ponds, an ideal place for mosquito breeding.
As of now there is no vaccine for Dengue, prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites.