Dengue cases on the rise in Taiz city

Hundreds of people in Taiz city, 250km south of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, have dengue fever and local hospitals are taking in new cases on a daily basis, according to health officials.



"Since the new outbreak in September, at least 350 cases have been confirmed and a further 1,000 are suspected," Mohammed Mahmoud, manager of the government's National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) in Taiz, told IRIN.



He said the number of infections had increased due to the widespread use of uncovered water tanks, particularly in the city’s slums. "Swamps and open sewers contribute much to the reproduction of the vector, known as Aedes [mosquito] that transmits the fever," Mahmoud said.



Many cases go  undiagnosed  and are not properly treated as most of those infected do not go to hospital for screening, said Huwaida al-Shathili, a professor at Taiz university's faculty of medicine. Al-Shathili said the number of dengue-infected cases may be many times more than those registered by NMCP, as symptoms can be difficult to detect.



Doctors say Taiz (population 500,000) has a fertile environment for mosquito breeding. "In Taiz, dengue isn't an epidemic… it is a recurring disease in the governorate where stagnant water and pollution are commonplace… The disease appears every two or three years," al-Shathili noted. "Last year, more than 300 cases were detected."



Epidemiology



According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dengue is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue viruses. It occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Symptoms appear 3-14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.

 

Common dengue symptoms include high fever, vomiting, headache, acute pain in the joints and skin rash, according to Murshid Hassan, a senior health official in the governorate. "Infected cases must have access to immediate treatment under the supervision of physicians," Hassan said. A WHO factsheet  states: "There is no specific treatment for dengue, but appropriate medical care frequently saves the lives of patients with the more serious dengue haemorrhagic fever."



Spraying campaigns were undertaken in some parts of the city in September but results have been poor due to a lack of funding, according to Mahmoud.



"We proposed two massive spraying campaigns to cover all 94,000 houses in the city at a cost of YR 38 million [US$190,000],” he said, adding that the Health Ministry had provided insufficient funding.



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