Four people die of dengue fever in one week [Archives:2008/1172/Local News]

July 14 2008

SANA'A, July 13 – Member of Parliament Mohammed Al-Assali affirmed on Saturday that four individuals infected with dengue fever all died within a week in Raymah and Hodeidah governorates.

Sultan Al-Maqtari, manager of Hodeidah governorate's Epidemic Recording Office, states that the office has discovered 12 cases of those infected with dengue fever since the beginning of May and that another 112 individuals suspected of carrying the infection were taken to the central laboratory to be checked for the disease.

Three of the victims, a mother and daughter and another woman, were from Raymah governorate, while the fourth victim was a 4-year-old girl from Hodeidah governorate.

Al-Maqtari noted that his office had conducted anti-mosquito spraying in Dair Al-Atta and Al-Rahmah villages, in addition to giving residents the required preventive medicines. He added that the team told residents about the necessity of draining swamps and eliminating stagnant open waters, which attract mosquitoes.

MP Ahmed Al-Dhubaibi urged Yemen's Ministry of Health and Population to assist citizens in Raymah governorate quickly, adding that a large number of people in Al-Jabeen district have symptoms similar to those of dengue fever.

Al-Assali, who represents the Health Committee in Parliament, pondered the official silence toward this increase in dengue fever victims, also urging the Ministry of Health and Population and concerned authorities to intervene quickly to end citizens' suffering and preventable deaths.

He noted that such an increase in victims of dengue fever reflects the declining health situation and poor health services that do a disservice to Yemen's poor, who are the majority of its population.

Earlier this month, 180 new cases of suspected dengue fever were reported in five governorates, 115 of which were confirmed to be dengue fever sufferers.

According to a Health Ministry report, the total number of dengue fever cases so far this year now is approaching 2,100. The report notes that the disease, found in only five governorates last year – Shabwa, Hodeidah, Abyan, Hadramout and Lahj – has been discovered in 13 governorates this year.

The ministry report states that the number of confirmed cases in Hadramout increased from 64 last week to 87 this week, while in Shabwa, such cases increased from 35 to 51, in addition to one new case in Abyan, making four cases in that governorate so far.

According to the report, Hodeidah and Lahj are witnessing fewer cases due to awareness campaigns and insecticide spraying.

The report further mentions that the main reason for the disease's spread is polluted water in open tanks and containers where mosquitoes gather. It notes that the main way to prevent the disease in these districts is to provide safe water sources.

However, according to the World Health Organization, some of these districts do have safe water sources, but they are pumped irregularly, which causes citizens to store water in tanks and open containers.

Ahmed Awadh, who heads WHO's dengue fever center, told the U.N.'s IRIN news service that the disease has claimed five lives so far because doctors were unaware of it and therefore treated the patients as if it was a mere fever.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne infection causing a severe flu-like illness and sometimes a potentially lethal complication called dengue hemorrhagic fever. According to WHO, there's no specific treatment for dengue fever; however, appropriate medical care can save sufferers' lives.

The organization also notes that two-fifths of the world's population is at risk of getting the disease and that the only way to combat it is by combating the mosquitoes that carry it.