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Dengue resurfaces : Alarm bells start ringing as another patient tested positive

* Dengue outbreak feared in the wake of monsoon rains, ensuing water accumulation

LAHORE: On more patient admitted at a city hospital has been tested positive for dengue on Saturday, while it is feared that the number of dengue patient will increase due to outbreak of dengue in the wake of monsoon season. The recent surge in the prevalence of disease has been linked with torrential rains and ensuing accumulation of water in low-lying areas or pits in urban localities.
The new dengue patients identified as seven-year-old Asad, of Iqbal Town, is being treated for dengue at Shaikh Zayed Hospital. 
Sources said that the number of dengue patients could increase across Punjab due to recent rains. 
They said that the rainy season is the most favourable season for dengue larvae to flourish and multiply in accumulated water that can still be seen in different parts of the city, creating an alarming situation. Health experts say that dengue virus emerges twice a year – first from February to April and then from September to November. In the first three-month period from February to April, a few cases of dengue were reported while most of them have appeared in second quarter during the previous years.
The experts termed the current monsoon season a threat for another large-scale outbreak of dengue fever, especially for those patients who encountered the same disease last year. They said that very simple methods were required to stop breeding of dengue mosquito that include changing water daily in flowerpots; draining out water from water pots, tires, bottles, bathtubs and water tanks. They further said that citizens should fumigate, as well as use bug zappers in their houses. In 2013, the total number of dengue positive cases rose to over 2,400 across the province out of which over 1,500 were reported from the provincial metropolis alone. However, in 2012, the number of dengue patients was merely 200 with no death. In 2011, the number of dengue patients reported from Punjab Province was 20,976 out of which 17,314 belonged to Lahore. The epidemic had killed a total of 329 people, 284 of them were from Lahore alone.
On March 4, 2014, the concerned departments started anti-dengue activities in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) at the start of change of season.
Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique disclosed this in the first meeting of cabinet committee on dengue control in 2014.
Addressing the meeting, he had said that early dengue surveillance, larviciding activities and awareness steps would be helpful in controlling dengue at the initial stage. He had said that all officers and officials were aware of their duties due to four-year experience in dengue control activities.
Chief Entomologist Prof Dr Waseem Akram had said that training modules have been formulated for training of over 400 master trainers in the field of dengue surveillance, larvaeciding, fogging, spray etc. He said that these master trainers would impart training to other officials in their departments/institutions.
Rafique also directed that like private properties, action should also be taken against public parks and government buildings under dengue regulations in case dengue larva was detected on these premises. 
He said this while presiding over a meeting of health officials and entomologists to review dengue situation and preparation of action plan for Eid holidays on Saturday.  Health Director General Dr Zahid Pervaiz, Institute of Public Health Dean Dr Muaz Ahmed, Epidemic, Response and Control Additional Director General Dr Islam Zafar, Lahore Health EDO Dr Zulfiqar Ali, Dengue Programme Coordinator Dr Farrukh, officers of the Punjab Information Technology Board and deputy district officers for health from all of the city’s towns attended the meeting.
Rafique said that due to monsoon, chances of dengue breeding have also increased; therefore, all of the officers along with their teams should also enhance their dengue surveillance activities. 
The meeting was informed that dengue larva has been reported from a few places in the city. Rafique directed that during indoor surveillance, residents should be advised to drain out water from air-coolers in monsoon season in order to remove breeding chances. 
He directed the health director general to accelerate awareness campaign in the print and electronic media regarding dengue. He said that dengue has become a social problem; therefore, government institutions, community and media should join hands for consolidating efforts to overcome it. He assured that shortage of staff and transport would be met after Eid holidays to accelerate the anti-dengue activities at town level.

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