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Dengue fever kills 125, infects more than 12,000 in Pakistan

From Nasir Habib, CNN
updated 10:09 PM EDT, Fri September 30, 2011
Pakistani health workers fumigate against dengue carrying mosquitos in the city of Lahore.
Pakistani health workers fumigate against dengue carrying mosquitos in the city of Lahore.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The WHO and a Punjab health official report infections and deaths in Pakistan
  • Most cases are in Lahore, a populous city in eastern Pakistan where 116 have died
  • Roughly 300 new cases are being reported daily, a provincial official says
  • The WHO is supporting Pakistanis to help control the outbreak

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- More than 12,000 have been infected and 125 people have died over the past two months in Pakistan after coming down with dengue fever, a health department spokesman said Friday.

The World Health Organization cited identical figures across Pakistan. According to a story Friday on a U.N. website, WHO spokesman Tarek Jasarevic said that his group is helping government and health authorities in Pakistan to manage the epidemic, increase public awareness and mobilize the local community.

The vast majority of the cases have been in Lahore, a city of more than 6 million people known as Pakistan's cultural capital. It lies near the border with India.

Ikhlaq Ahmed, a spokesman for the health department in Punjab province, told CNN there have been 116 deaths and more than 10,000 infections in the city.

What is Dengue fever?

An additional 300 cases are being reported daily, he added, with at least five related deaths in the past 24 hours alone.

Recently, a member of a Pakistani nursing staff and a local politician fell victim to a particularly virulent strain of hemorrhagic fever, creating panic in the city as thousands crowded hospital waiting rooms to get tested.

The government has also ordered all educational institutions to be reopened after closing down for 10 days. Meanwhile, students have been instructed not to wear half-sleeve shirts until the epidemic ceases.

Earlier this month, the provincial government ordered all schools in Lahore closed because of the outbreak, Ahmed said.

Asim Hussain, who works in an office in Lahore, said, "I may lose my job," since he hasn't gone to work because of the outbreak.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, dengue fever is spread by mosquito bites and manifests itself in symptoms including a sudden high fever, rashes, nausea, headaches and others. There is no treatment that specifically addresses the ailment, the institution notes, though measures can be taken to mitigate its symptoms.

This year's toll from dengue fever in Pakistan has already passed that of last year. The United Nations said that there were 40 deaths and 11,024 confirmed cases in all of 2010.

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