There is a low level outbreak of Dengue Fever in Lahore and its outskirts. Over the last few weeks almost a hundred patients have tested positive for the Dengue virus. Every day the media gives the public an updated count of how many patients have been diagnosed with Dengue Fever. Sometimes the media is so dutiful in its duty to inform that the reports include the names of the suspected Dengue patients as well!
Every patient is important. Even one case of Dengue Fever is one too many. Having said that, if we look at the size of the outbreak, it is much, much smaller than had been anticipated by the World Health Organization.
For the last several months the Government of Punjab has been conducting detailed and exhaustive surveillace for Aedes mosquitoesthat spread the Dengue virus. Survey teams have been looking everywhere in Lahore for any small collection of still water. Almost to the point of harrassment, the government and its operatives have been fixated on making sure that there is no fertile ground for the breeding of mosquitoes. This effort has been accompanied by a massive public awareness campaign. Countless seminars have been held in schools and colleges. There has been a major drive to educate the public on how to prevent Dengue Fever.
This timely focus on prevention of an outbreak seems to be paying dividends. At least for now it appears that the massive outbreak that was expected as a follow up to last year’s epidemic has been curtailed. Who can forget the chaos and panic last year. Thousands and thousands of patients were suffering from Dengue Fever. Heavy criticism was directed at the government for failing to curb the spread of Dengue Fever.
We are not completely out of the woods yet. The outbreak could flare up still. But if we do manage to make it through the next three weeks without a significant increase in Dengue Fever cases, we will have indeed performed a modern-day miracle. And the credit should go to the relentless efforts of the Government of Punjab.