Dengue fever hits Pakistan's Punjab province
Pakistan's eastern Punjab province is in the grip of a dengue epidemic with dozens of cases being reported daily at various hospitals across the province, said officials and hospital sources.
A report issued by the provincial health department on Friday said that as many as 145 cases of dengue fever in Lahore, the provincial capital, and several other cities have been reported in Punjab over the past three days, Xinhua reported.
The total dengue fever cases in the Punjab are 1,419 since the beginning of this year, out of which 1,358 Dengue patients had recovered and been discharged from hospitals, according to local media.
Dengue, an acute febrile disease spread by the bite of the aedes aegypti has been endemic in Pakistan for the last few years. It spreads most often after the rainy season in July and August when pools of standing water serve as ideal mosquito breeding spots.
Gravity of the dengue disease was felt at the central level and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani extended full support to the Punjab government in coping with the growing number of cases of dengue fever.
The Prime Minister, who was in Lahore on Friday, directed his Principal Secretary to contact the Punjab government and assist them in taking necessary preventive measures against the Dengue fever. He also asked him to extend offer on behalf of the federal government for provision of any technical expertise to the Punjab government.
Acting on reports that the virus was spreading rapidly and that measures to control it had been unsuccessful, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has presided over series of meetings and ordered the immediate suspension of the Lahore district health officer for failing to control the epidemic.
A task force comprising a government minister, health officials and doctors has been set up to review the situation and suggest measures to curb the virus.
On the orders of the chief minister, giant advertisements on measures that can be taken to prevent dengue have appeared in the media.
People have been advised not to allow water to stand in containers, to use mosquito repellents, spray homes and be particularly vigilant at dawn and twilight when the dengue- carrying mosquitoes bite.
This increase in public vigilance and awareness may yet halt the spread of a disease that over the past few weeks has struck across the province, said specialists.
Meanwhile, the Health Department spokesman also stressed awareness among the people for prevention, control and treatment of dengue virus. According to him, the symptoms of dengue fever include high fever, severe body pain, itching and red spots, bleeding from nose and teeth and severe pain in the eyes. He said precautions include proper covering of the pots having water, like buckets and drums, and using coils, mats and sprays for eliminating mosquitoes.
He further said dengue mosquitoes usually attack early in the morning from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.in the evening. The patients should act upon the advice of qualified physicians only, he maintained.