NIH for preparing epidemic-prone diseases response plan

ISLAMABAD:National Institute of Health (NIH) on Tuesday asked the departments and medical institutions at all levels for timely preparation for effective response to the epidemic-prone infectious diseases in the winter season.

According to seasonal awareness and alert for epidemic-prone infectious diseases in Pakistan issued by NIH for winter season, the authority said that such plans will be helpful in controlling outbreaks and reduce the associated morbidity and mortality.

The NIH advised the federal, provincial and district health departments as well as other stakeholders to take keep a continuous watch on the anticipated seasonal public health threats and taking of all preventive or curative measures in this context.

It said that these diseases are predicted to be on high alert during said season and asked the authorities concerned to properly read the NIH alert which contains detailed introduction of diseases, case definitions, infectious agents, modes of transmission, case management and prevention.

It said that in Pakistan, the influenza activity typically starts increasing from September and reaches peak during the winter months and asked the clinicians to remain meticulous and treat all suspected cases of severe influenza appropriately.

It said that Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza virus and it can cause mild to severe illness and an older people, young children and people with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious complications. It said that there are three types of seasonal influenza viruses, types A, B, and C.

The NIH alert said that said that Diphtheria is also disease of prevailing season which is an acute, toxin-mediated Vaccine Preventable (VPD) upper respiratory illness that affects the throat and sometimes tonsils.

It said that Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat and can involve almost any mucous membrane. Classifications based on site of disease are anterior nasal, pharyngeal, tonsillar and laryngeal membrane, sore throat, low grade fever and an adherent pseudo-membrane on the tonsils, pharynx and nasal cavity.

It added the symptoms range from sore throat to toxic life-threatening diphtheria of the larynx or of the lower and upper respiratory tracts. The toxin produced by bacteria may also get into the blood stream and can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, and nerves.

The alert said that dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease which is also known as break bone fever, causes flu-like illness, and occasionally develops into a potentially lethal complication.

It said that the global incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades and about half of the world’s population is now at risk. The first outbreak of dengue fever in Pakistan was confirmed in 1994, but a sudden rise in dengue cases and the annual epidemic trend in the provinces has been observed multiple times thereafter.

It said that dengue fever is defined by fever for three days to 10 days as reported by the patient or healthcare provider and the presence of one or more signs and symptoms like nausea, vomiting, rash, aches, headache and leucopenia.