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4 people die after contracting chikungunya, over 500 feared infected in Tharparkar

4 people die after contracting chikungunya, over 500 feared infected in Tharparkar

At least four people have died after contracting the chikungunya virus ? which is otherwise non-life threatening ? in Tharparkar over the past week, with hundreds others believed to have been diagnosed with the virus this month.

According to District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Shafiqur Rehman Memon, 567 people have been diagnosed with the chikungunya virus in the district in the last three weeks. However, locals and doctors claim over 2,000 people have been affected by the virus in Tharparkar.

Chief Executive Officer of Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS) expressed concern over the virus outbreak and attributed the deaths to poor treatment or self-medication.

Hundreds of patients were rushed to the ill-equipped Chhachhro taluka hospital for treatment. The hospital, housing only 20 beds and three wards, cannot accept any more patients. The affected are now being transported to hospitals in Umerkot and Mithi.

According to the DHO's statement, most affected villages include Ram Sighani, Udani and Fangario, among others, where medical camps are being set up to treat patients.

Although Dr Memon claimed that measures are being taken to prevent the virus from spreading any further, those affected and their families deny that authorities have provided them any health facilities in Chhachhro and other towns.

The DHO said that the increase in the cases of the virus was due to heavy rainfall in the arid region, adding that the situation was "under control", and that various villages have already been fumigated thrice to get rid of the virus-carrying mosquitoes.

Dr Memon said that Field Emergency Laboratory Testing Programme, in collaboration with the Centre for Disease Control conducted medical tests of patients complaining of severe joint pain ? one of the main symptoms of chikungunya virus. The blood samples of the patients are now being sent to the National Institute of Health in Islamabad.

HANDS chief Dr Shaikh urged authorities and non-profit organisations to send more medical teams to Thar in order to control the alarming increase in the cases of chikungunya virus.

He also said that he has directed workers in his organisation to spread awareness among locals to prevent the virus from spreading further.

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