ISLAMABAD, Oct 14: A case of dengue fever has been detected in a capital hospital though health professionals dismiss any imminent outbreak similar to the one in Karachi.
An official source told Dawn on Saturday that a sample sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) from the KRL Hospital, Islamabad, was tested positive.
A duty doctor at the KRL Hospital confirmed the report and identified the patient as 22-year-old Rais-i-Azam, a student from Gujranwala who was staying in a hostel in the capital with some friends.
The doctor said the patient was referred to the hospital by Nescom Hospital on October 6 with the complaints of high fever and DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation) and very low platelets count.
The doctor said the patient left the hospital against medical advice on October 12, although his condition was stable. He was asked to report back to the Nescom Hospital for further treatment.
However, when contacted, chief of public health at the NIH Dr Birjees M. Kazi said he was not aware of any sample received from the KRL Hospital.
Meanwhile, four samples from the Bilal Hospital Rawalpindi have shown negative results. NIH has also received one sample from the Shifa International Hospital which was still under process.
The NIH has also received 24 other samples from different hospitals of Karachi, out of which 22 tested positive.
Dengue fever is caused by a specific type of mosquito that bites only during daytime, especially during sunrise and sunset. The breeding takes place only in containers, drums and buckets of clean water.
Dengue fever is one of the major health risks in South and South-east Asia, he said but admitted that extreme climatic conditions in the northern part of this part of the world including Pakistan acted as a natural defence against the spread of the disease. The more humid and warm the climate the more will be the chance of the spread of diseases, he explained. However, he admitted that outbreak of diseases in the southern part like Karachi reflected a sorry state of affairs of the city governments and their civic agencies.
Referring to the situation in Karachi, a spokesman for NIH said the record of five major hospitals had showed 371 cases of viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) and 16 deaths in the current spell disease with the fatality rate of 4.3 per cent.
This time, the disease was not limited to the poverty-stricken areas of Landhi and Malir as was observed last year (November 2005-December 2006), but rather it spread to different parts of the city, involving even the posh localities like Defence Housing Authority.
Recently, the ministry of health deputed a joint team comprising experts from NIH, Directorate of Malaria Control Programme and the World Health Organisation to assess the situation and carry out epidemiological investigations.
The team visited Liaquat National Hospital, Civil Hospital, Ziauddin Hospital and the Aga Khan University Hospital to gather information about the cases admitted and determine the disease trend and its geographical distribution.
A central focal point has also been established in the office of the secretary health, Sindh, for monitoring and surveillance of dengue fever cases.
All the five hospitals have also been recommended to work as sentinel sites to generate and disseminate DHF data to the health department at the focal point on a daily basis for onward transmission to NIH for monitoring the situation. Training sessions have also been conducted at three places for the senior health managers of the province.
Meanwhile, the team of experts deputed to Karachi hospitals in their recommendation said the breeding sites should be removed by keeping the clean water containers, buckets, pitchers, saucers and flower and money plant holding inside the houses instead of keeping them in the open.