Posted on Feb 11, 2011 by Sergio Ulloa
In Saudi Arabia authorities are warning
hosptials in Jeddah of a dengue fever outbreak, following floods which have provided a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
According to the Ministry of Health Saudia Arabia, since the January 26th floods in Jeddah, six cases of dengue fever and 4 cases of malaria have been confirmed in the country. Further to this, dysentery and other secondary flood related illnesses have caused an influx of patients in Jeddah's hospitals.
Authorities have asked hospitals in Jeddah to prepare for an increase in dengue fever cases. In order to monitor the situation carefully, the Health Affairs Department has supplied hospitals with the appropriate dengue fever and malaria testing equipment. Health Affairs director, Dr Sami Badawoud, has mandated hospitals to treat all patients with symptoms of dengue fever, whether citizen or foreigner. Despite efforts, patients are flocking to hospitals with secondary illnesses relating to the Jeddah floods which killed 10 people, 8 who were expatriates.
, head of Social Affairs Preventative Medicine Department, warns the number of dengue fever cases are expected to rise next week given the end of incubation period for mosquitoes. Dengue parasites are transmitted after a mosquito ingests blood from an infected specimen, and takes approximately 8 to 12 days for the mosquito to be a carrier of the dengue virus. While only female mosquitoes will drink human blood, and then only when pregnant, an infected mosquito can transmit the virus to humans during its entire lifespan, which is typically 15 to 65 days long. As such, the risk of dengue fever transmission will largely increase over the next coming weeks.
Flooding in the Jeddah area has caused a range of secondary illnesses, which are expected to increase further. Following the floods, 161 patients have been admitted
to hospitals with flood related illnesses. Patients have presented with dysentery related symptoms, as well as asthma attacks caused by stress relating to the floods. The Saudi Department of Health Affairs has informed the Jeddah populace to strictly drink bottled water, as water tanks will variably be contaminated with bacterial infections such as dysentery and cholera. Sami Badawoud has further warned that pesticides, used to eradicate mosquitoes, are harmful and can exacerbate chest and respiratory illnesses.
Given the low doctor-patient ratio in Saudi Arabia's public hospitals, similar to other healthcare systems across the globe, what we can expect to see is an overcrowding of public health facilities in Jeddah over the next coming weeks to months. Although the public health care system is well equipped to adequately treat malaria and dengue fever patients, lack of staff will not be able to sufficiently cope with an outbreak such as this.
In the even of an outbreak, patients are likely to steer towards treatment at private health care facilities, given that public hospitals are likely to fill up quickly. An International Health insurance policy is therefore deemed necessary when visiting areas at risk of water and vector borne disease outbreaks.
Patients that suffer from serious dengue fever cases, including life-threatening complications of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), must be treated immediately in hospitals. With no hospital treatment the mortality rate is 26 per cent in severe DHF patients. The dengue mortality rate is reduced to 3 per cent with adequate hospital treatment. Hospital admission is required to control hemorrhage and shock, with treatment duration depending on the severity of the virus. Intravenous fluids are used to treat shock and dehydration, and a blood infusion may also be required. Various complications can result from DHF including respiratory problems, liver failure, neurological, pleural effusion, and gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
Countries across the globe, particularly in sub tropical climates, are fighting vector borne diseases with no current vaccination or successful eradication plan. Pre-exposure treatment, such as anti-malarial medication, is available however not entirely effective and too expensive for third-world countries. The Saudi Arabian Government is making continuous efforts to control outbreaks of vector borne diseases with applications of pesticide spray to stagnant water in the post-flooded Jeddah area. There are also developments in relation to a genetically modified (GM) mosquito that would be used to eradicate the dengue fever virus in affected areas worldwide. GM mosquitoes
are male, therefore do not drink blood and pose no threat to spreading the disease.