As many as 5 people have lost their lives in Pakistan due to the outbreak of dengue, more familiarly known as the Congo fever. Another 40 people are reported to have been infected by the disease.
'Five patients suspected of having contracted Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) are dead, including a lady doctor, while 40 others are infected and are under observation in hospitals,' a spokesman of the Health Ministry said. All the hospitals in Karachi have been put on alert, with careful screening of all incoming patients. The vector of the dangerous dengue fever is the Aedes Egyptii mosquito that usually bites during the day.
The spokesperson said that the government had sent blood samples of five patients from Congo to laboratories in South Africa for tests.
'We are awaiting test results of these samples sent to the National Institute of Virology, South Africa, on 26 November 2005. The report is likely to arrive in a week's time,' said the spokesman. Health Minister Nisar Khan held meetings with health authorities in Karachi on how to deal with the situation, with experts warning of a possible epidemic.
According to the Health Minister, the situation is under control and the Sindh Health Department has been asked to screen livestock to check the spread of the epidemic. The provincial administration has also been requested to spray chemicals to destroy all kinds of vector-born diseases.
Khan, in a statement, appealed to the people not to panic as the disease early warning system was fully operational at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad, which, in close liaison with the Provincial Health Department, was monitoring the situation.
The minister also assured that there were enough stocks in the country of oral anti-virals like Ribavirin, which was administered in such cases and supplies of Ribavirin injections were being imported on an urgent basis. The staff of the provincial malaria control program has been directed to immediately carry out spraying in the city to kill mosquitoes.
The National Institute of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization is preparing a long-term plan to control similar outbreaks in the future.