Sindh registers surge in poverty linked chikungunya cases

KARACHI: Sindh during the current year has registered 4,312 cases of chikungunya against 405 in 2016, said a report issued by provincial health department.

Concerned officials as well as seasoned professionals talking to reporter attributed the situation to absolute disregard for adequate and safe disposal of garbage and rampant negligence towards sewerage and sanitation.

Acknowledging that Karachi is the worst hit, senior professionals reminded that there was strong connection between the disease and poverty.

Almost 100% of the registered patients were cited to fall under the category of low income groups, mainly the slum dwellers who were not only the most vulnerable but the ailment also left serious implication on their wage earning capacities.

“Chikungunya, a mosquito borne is rarely fatal, however, its

associated morbidity is immense,” Professor and Section Head, Adult Infectious Diseases, Aga Khan University Hospital, Dr Bushra Jamil said.

High fever, joint pain (in lower back, ankle, knees, wrists or phalanges), joint swelling, rash, headache, muscle pain, nausea and fatigue are identified as its manifestation.

According to the provincial health department report three chikunguniya induced deaths were reported last year and six during the current year.

Dr. Tahir Hasan, a senior epidemiologist said death rate of Chikungunya virus is less than one per cent while the ailment itself is also largely self-limiting.

“It lasts for two or three days, however, after-affects are often damaging as the affectees continue to complain of piercing pain and ache for quite some time,” he said.

The professionals were of unanimous opinion that people must protect themselves from the mosquito bite with equal attention towards eradication of their breeding points.

There was said to be no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya and that there were also no vaccine available, at the commercial scale, to prevent the ailment.

Despite being largely benign, the doctors said possibility of associated complications can not be ignored and these could range from eye problems to kidney problems, skin conditions, bleeding, hepatitis etc.