64 test positive for dengue virus in capital
ISLAMABAD: As many as 64 people in the federal capital have tested positive for the dengue virus with officials expecting the number of cases to rise further, especially in the rural areas.
Health officials from various departments including the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) and the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) told the media that most of the dengue patients hailed from the rural areas of the city where the threat from the virus was far more serious.
ICT Additional District Health Officer Dr Najeeb Durrani said that a total of 68 patients had visited various hospitals of the twin cities with dengue-like symptoms.
Of these, Dr Durrani said, 64 were confirmed to have contracted the dengue virus.
Around 37 cases were reported from the ICT while 15 were reported from the urban areas, he said.
Providing a break-up of the cases, the health officer said that as many as nine cases were reported from Bara Kahu, seven from Tarlai, seven from Tarnol, four from Sohan, two from Rawat, three from Sihala and Koral and one each from Kirpa and Shah Allah Ditta.
Dr Durrani said that 35 patients from Islamabad went to hospitals in Rawalpindi for treatment.
Despite the alarming number of cases, he said that they had the situation in the capital under control.
Talking about the measures taken to tackle the dengue threat, Dr Durrani said that they were monitoring the possible sites of dengue breeding.
Further, he said that after a dengue case is reported, their special teams visit the area and fumigate the neighbourhood. “But the government cannot spray every house, hence people should take preventive measures themselves and fumigate their homes,” the health official said, adding that an awareness campaign about dengue has been underway in the district for the past four months.
He warned that people between the ages of 15 to 25 years are more vulnerable to the disease and should be more careful.
Dr Durrani said the virus is expected to remain active until November and it will also stay active in the country over the next few years, hence it was important to protect oneself from mosquito bites.
“There is no medicine for dengue, but taking aspirin during fever is dangerous,” he warned.
Meanwhile, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU) Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Javed Akram said that dengue is prevalent in 138 countries of the world and that even developed countries have been unable to completely eradicate it.
“It can even spread with stagnant water in a spoon or in wrappers,” he said as he advised people to drain any stagnant water.
“It can only be reduced and not completely eradicated,” he said while urging everyone to keep their houses dry and clean.
Dengue vaccine registered
With dengue having claimed 16 lives so far in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) gave its nod for registering a dengue vaccine on an emergency basis.
The move means Pakistan will become only the second country in the world to approve the import of the vaccine.
However, health experts remain sceptical of dengue opine that the vaccine is not that effective.
Prof Dr Akram said that the Polyvalent vaccines are not very effective since there are at least four different strains of the virus in Pakistan and hence the vaccine loses its efficiency.
“Source reduction for mosquitoes remain the key,” he added, pointing to success cases within the country where focusing on eradication of mosquitoes was perhaps most effective.