Islamabad - Reduction of dengue virus transmission depends primarily on control of the mosquito vectors and interruption of human–vector contact.

Dr Robert Fontaine from US Centers for Disease Control Atlanta stated this while delivering a lecture on the dengue epidemiology, vector characteristics and his observations regarding the ongoing surge in dengue cases in recent weeks.

In the wake of recent surge in the dengue fever cases in different parts of the country especially in Rawalpindi since September 2015, a technical session on dengue surveillance and control was organised yesterday by the Ministry of National Health Services at the National Institute of Health Islamabad in collaboration with the Pakistan Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme.

The session was attended by public health professional, physicians and laboratory scientists representing the public sector and Pakistan Army from the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Dr Fontaine said that countries such as Pakistan which are endemic for dengue must implement national preparedness plans that incorporate early warning systems, outbreak vector and environmental surveillance.

Establishment of laboratory diagnostic support and established protocols for clinical case management are essential components of such preparedness. Programmes for increasing community awareness together with social mobilisation can serve as key elements towards the control efforts, he suggested. National partnership involving government bodies, research institutions and the private sector, as well as international collaborations can help strengthen national programmes for dengue preparedness and response, he said.

Dengue is an acute viral illness caused by any of the four distinct but closely related dengue virus (DENV) subtypes (called DENV 1, 2, 3, and 4), is a mosquito borne viral disease that has rapidly spread globally during recent years, he explained.

The dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti and, to a lesser extent, A. albopictus. It is a febrile illness and symptoms appear 3-14 days after the infective bite. Clinical presentation can range from a mild nonspecific fever syndrome, to classic dengue fever or break bone fever or in the most severe forms like dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

In recent years, Pakistan has experienced multiple dengue outbreaks from different geographical areas since the first outbreak was detected in 1994. During last two decades two major outbreaks were reported from Pakistan as in 2005 over 6,000 cases with 52 deaths were reported from Karachi while during 2011, more than 21,000 cases occurred in Lahore with 350 deaths. Between 2011 and 2014 more than 48,000 laboratory confirmed cases were reported from across the country.

During the current season more than 5,000 cases have been reported from across the country with around five deaths so far, according to the National Institute of Health.