For over a week, number of dengue carrier people has been swelling across Pakistan, especially in big cities, to the extent that the outbreak may soon be declared an epidemic. Of all areas, Lahore is on the way to become epicenter of the disease, where all public and private hospitals have seen the influx of the people tested positive for the dengue virus in the ongoing week. Data speaks volume of the severity of the situation: according to health authorities, the number of positive cases of the dengue virus in Punjab has hit 1,659, and of them, Lahore’s share is 1,347. That is quite a huge number. Time to take precautionary measures is already over, and now our healthcare system, already burdened with the patients suffering from the Coronavirus-related complications, will have to deal with the dengue patients. Alarm bells have rung in the corridors of the health authorities. Dengue virus is not new to our part of the world. Since the first confirmed outbreak of the dengue virus back in 2010 in Punjab, every monsoon season falls upon us with the danger of outbreak of dengue fever, which can prove fatal. The problem with the dengue control measure is that it cannot be controlled with the governmental measures alone. Public cooperation is a must part of the dengue control campaign. The previous government of (then chief minister) Shehbaz Sharif introduced several workable actions, which helped the government to control the disease.
A fierce campaign to raise awareness among the public about special standard operating procedures for dengue control helped stem the tide of the mosquito-borne disease in two to three years. The disease would have to be tackled on a permanent basis, which, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), has become the fastest emerging viral infection. In Pakistan, medical practitioners have yet to report any Coronavirus-like variants, but the top UN health body has reported outbreaks of DENV1, DENV2, DENV3 and DENV4 strains of the dengue fever in other countries. The illness can cause complications related to the brain, heart, and liver leading to multiple organ failure. Our bad luck is that our ill-planned urban development, where sanitation conditions hardly get the government’s attention, gives an unchallenged room to Aedes mosquitoes to breed and spread the virus. However, both the government and the public see the most effective measure to control dengue in insecticides and mosquito repellents. This is one of the several steps. The most effective measures include not letting freshwater stand in our houses and on roads. Tracking and destroying dengue larva on time helps a lot. The health authorities should update the data on dengue positive patients regularly as data raises awareness about the disease among the public. Special wards need to be established in hospitals to treat the patients. As long as the trend of the virus is concerned, we will have to live with it because changing patterns of climate and rainfall will continue to provide unpredictable conditions to us. A strategy with both short-term and long-term actions involving government and non-governmental agencies and the public may bring about a visible success.