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Dengue reaches epidemic level in country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, already grappling with the issue of flash floods and subsequent myriad problems relating rescue, relief and rehabilitation of hundreds of thousands of flood victims, is further burdened with a massive menace of dengue fever. According to statistics, in Punjab alone, at least 28 people have died of this disease with 5510 patients infected with dengue virus in the province. Doctors stressed medical treatment of the disease was extremely vital as soon as the disease was diagnosed. It is pertinent to note here that mega platelets kits have run short in the country triggering another mass problem for the government. The mega platelets kits used in the blood transfusion of dengue patients are not available at any public hospital across Lahore. Warning against the shortage, doctors said the number of deaths might go up if the situation was not heeded. Meantime, a death has been reported in Sindh as well. Nearly 40 cases were reported in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, where three dengue patients lost their lives. Punjab government, instead of taking up concrete efforts to ward off the mosquitoborne disease, has closed down schools. Punjab University campuses were evacuated. Health experts say the illness is on the rampage across the Punjab because of poor hygiene conditions, and heavy monsoon rain provides ideal conditions for denguecarrying mosquitoes to thrive in stagnant water. The first case of dengue was reported in Pakistan in 1994. Those who died included Ataullah Siddiqui, head of the provincial department of minerals and natural resources. Meantime, a team of experts have arrived in Pakistan from Sri Lanka to help fight the disease. The disease is a threat to nearly half of the worlds population. Of the estimated 220 million people infected each year, two million -- mostly children in Latin America and Asia -- develop a severe form called dengue hemorrhagic fever. There is currently no cure or vaccine for dengue fever.

There are no approved vaccines for the dengue virus.[1] Prevention thus depends on control of and protection from the bites of the mosquito that transmits it. [14][27] The World Health Organization recommends an Integrated Vector Control program consisting of five elements: (1) Advocacy, social mobilization and legislation to ensure that public health bodies and communities are strengthened, (2) collaboration between the health and other sectors (public and private), (3) an integrated approach to disease control to maximize use of resources, (4) evidence-based decision making to ensure any interventions are targeted appropriately (5) capacity-building to ensure an adequate response to the local situation. The primary method of controlling A. aegypti is by eliminating its habitats. This is done by emptying containers of water or by adding insecticides or biological control agents to these areas, although spraying with organophosphate or pyrethroid insecticides is not thought to be effective. Reducing open collections of water through environmental modification is the preferred method of control, given the concerns of negative health effect from insecticides and greater logistical difficulties with control agents. People can prevent mosquito bites by wearing clothing that fully covers the skin, using mosquito netting while resting, and/or the application of insect repellent (DEET being the most effective).