This is supposed to be height of the dengue panic here in Lahore, but I can testify to the truth of both the main calming assertions the Punjab government is making. First, that not every mosquito carries the dengue virus. Ive spent a lot of time being bit. And I havent got dengue, at least not so far. The second thing it said may be more important, for it helps explain all the fuss. And that is, not every fever is caused by the dengue virus. In fact, this is the time of the year when the flu spreads like wildfire, as the season is on the verge of change, from monsoon to autumn. For those who pray fajr at the right time, there is already a chill in the air which is even hinting at the idea of winter looming up very close. I should know, for Ive suffered that particular fever, which can go up quite high, but which is not dengue. That is also accompanied by a very debilitating kind of cough and running nose which makes only tissue makers happy. Another thing that the Punjab government was made to do by the dread virus was shut down the schools, only to re-open them after a week. But whos going? Not when both teachers and students are down with the flu? Or maybe dengue. And I think thats whats really causing the pressure on medical facilities, the fact that a lot of people who have got the seasonal flu think theyve got dengue, and want to be tested, even though the treatment for flu consists mainly of being brave, facing the music and slugging it out, while dengue treatment requires blood transfusions. The reason is because the platelet count drops. For anyone who still remembers their matriculation biology, platelets are that part of the blood which contains the clotting agent. In short, which does the clotting that stop us bleeding to death every time we have a little cut. In fact, haemophiliacs lack platelets, which is why they are kept alive with such difficulty. The result is neither edifying nor pleasant. Dengue turns into a haemophiliacs fever, and death is because of internal bleeding. That makes me wonder why the Punjab government suddenly felt the need to bring experts in from Sri Lanka, of all places. Well, here they are, and not a Jayasuriya or a Ranatunga among them. Either would have been enough to hit the dengue mosquitoes for a six. Or maybe a Murlitharan to bowl them out. The problem with having sportsmen as ambassadors of your country is that your country gets identified too closely with the sport. So you cant blame anyone for associating Pakistan with fast bowling if Imran Khan ever makes it to the top of the heap that is Pakistasni politics. Now I like my cricket as much as the next man, even if he happens to be Younis Khan or Haroon Rashid, but I dont think, if I was to get dengue, that I would mind if my cure was helped by a Sri Lankan who was not Sangakkara. In fact, I would prefer if Sangakkara was to stay out of the matter, for weve got too many lawyers doing so many things I dont think we want to be bringing in any from Sri Lanka, even if they are former Sri Lankan cricket captains. And the fact is, Sri Lanka has got three ex-captains in the team, all having stepped down gracefully after having led their side, as opposed to Pakistan, where ex-captains are usually brutally kicked aside. Imagine if the team had included players like Mohammad Yusuf or Shahid Afridi, or even if Shoaib Malik had a permanent place. But anyway, it seems the Sri Lankans have a policy of letting everyone be the captain, and the end result will be that one would only be able to retire when the Sri Lankan Board brought in a new captain. And a Sri Lankan debut would end up meaning that young boys of 18 or 19, would end up getting captaincy experience as soon as they got into a Test match, where upon they would either make a pair (batsmen), get hit for 100 runs(bowlers) or both (because they fancied themselves as both) The dengue fever in Punjab, the floods, rains and deaths in Sindh have also conspired to make the exciting bout that was about to begin between Altaf Hussain of the MQM and Dr Zulfiqar Mirza of the PPP end abruptly as Sindh started to lose lives in the floods. It was almost as if people killed by the floods were a sort of substitute for those not killed in the target killings taking place in the province until recently. I have heard, probably incorrectly, that this is germ warfare in the War on Terror. Ive read that Dengue is not good for germ warfare. So I as if we are living out a Gabriel Garca Mrquez novel, either El otoo del patriarca (The Autumn of the Patriarch) or El amor en los tiempos del clera (Love in the Time of Cholera). We used to have people just collapsing and dying because of a fever, but instead we have people now catching dengue, which may be more like Camus La peste (The Plague) than we think, and has provoked the concept of a visitation of the Almightry for our sins. That might well be true, but we should remember that the Almighty sends us illness to lift our sins off us. Still, we should avoid the dengue like the plague.