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Home / Health / FEATURE-Kathmandu fights a new threat with rising temperatures: dengue fever

FEATURE-Kathmandu fights a new threat with rising temperatures: dengue fever



For Prabina Maharjan it started with a headache, which then turned into fever and body aches.

  Female mosquito Aedes aegypti acquiring a blood meal from her human host, 2006. Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) / James Gathany. (Photo by Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images) © Getty
Female Aedes aegypti mosquito acquiring a blood meal from her human host, 2006. Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) / James Gathany. (Photo by Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images)

When she first appeared at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital a week ago, tests showed something strange for this high-altitude city: dengue fever, a scourge more associated with the low-lying tropics of Nepal.

But as climate change brings hotter temperatures with it, the risks of disease are shifting – and this year Kathmandu, Nepal's capital in the Himalayan foothills, has witnessed an unprecedented increase in dengue fever.

More than 1,000 cases of fever occurred in the first week of September alone According to Anup Bastola, the hospital's chief physician for tropical medicine, a quarter of them were contracted by the city's Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in the Kathmandu region.

In recent years, hospital-based mainly painful and occasional cases have been observed deadly disease in people from the southern lowlands of Nepal, he said.

"But this year we saw many cases from the Kathmandu valley itself," he added.

In a city th at has never been exposed to such a large local outbreak. The fear of dengue fever is so great that people flood into hospitals for testing, even if it turns out they only have a headache or a seasonal flu.

The number of patients is so high that staff are busy testing blood until late at night, "Bastola said.

Among the test subjects were the mother and son of 39-year-old Maharjan, who were found to have intercepted the blood. The mosquito-borne disease was not hospitalized for a week.

"We were amazed to be afflicted by a disease commonly referred to as Terai Disease," Maharjan said regarding a southern tropical region of Nepal.

She's wondering why the disease is now erupting in hilly Kathmandu at 1,400 meters.

"There have been mosquitoes in the valley in recent years, but we've never heard so much of the onset of this disease," Ma Harjan said.

MORE HEAT, LESS KNOWLEDGE

Climate change is rapidly changing in many countries as health threats change rapidly In the Disease Control Unit, more than 250 locally contracted cases occurred in the Kathmandu Valley between mid-July and early September Dengue fever was detected, two of which were fatal.

Last year, according to the agency, there were only six cases.

Meghnath Dhimal, Chief Research Officer of the Nepal Health Research Council, said rising climate-related temperatures are the main reason for the new threat.

"In Nepal, the first outbreak of this disease occurred in 2006. when only five districts were affected. However, this year the disease was found in 56 out of 77 districts, "he said.

Warmer conditions contribute to the spread of the disease by facilitating the multiplication of mosquitoes and encouraging the virus itself to multiply more quickly.

"The migration of infected mosquitoes and humans from the tropical parts of Nepal, however, plays a role in seeding the disease" in new areas, he said.

With no vaccine or drug available to treat dengue, the number is decreasing. The fight against mosquitoes is the most important way to reduce spread, said Dhimal.

However, the Nepalese government, which faces a rapidly growing threat, has not yet set up enough programs to achieve this.

"As The highlands have rarely been affected by dengue fever. People and government officials are not well prepared to prevent and fight the disease. "

In most cases, efforts to tackle the problem begin" only after it has gained ground. " he said.

That means "the insects will not be eliminated this year and will rejuvenate (lay eggs and) next year after they reach a favorable temperature," said Dhimal.

Another obstacle in the fight against the disease is simply the lack of awareness of many people about the emergence of disease threat.

For example, residents may protect themselves from mosquito bites at night, but the dengue-carrying mosquito bites by day, few people in Kathmandu know, he said.

A study he conducted in 2012 found people living in the Nepal lowlands were five times more likely to fight dengue risks than highland areas.

"If the Nepalese highlands are to fight dengue risks successfully, raising awareness of people and controlling the vector through effective government action and community mobilization can be the only effective step," Dhimal said.

Related Video: Mosquito Attempts Awaken Hopes to Defeat Dengue Fever [via AFP]


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