Dengue Fever: Doctor outlines signs and symptoms of infection
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The mystery illness has been diagnosed across a number of different hospitals in Karachi, with patients showing symptoms including reduced platelets and white blood cells. Pakistan is already experiencing an epidemic of dengue fever, with the latest outbreak infecting more than 16,000 people acording to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, patients in Karachi have been testing negative for the mosquito-borne disease despite showing the typical symptoms.
According to a report in The News, health experts suspect a pathogen from the arbovirus family of viruses could be responsible.
Professor Saeed Khan, head of molecular pathology at the Dow University of Health Sciences in Karachi, said: “For a couple of weeks, we are seeing cases of viral fever, in which platelets and white blood cells and dropping while other clinical symptoms are also similar to the dengue fever.
“But when NS1 antigen of these patients is performed, their tests come out to be negative.”
Although the patients have tested negative for dengue fever, they reportedly required the same protocol treatments.
Symptoms of dengue fever include fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, red rash and loss of appetite.
Professor Khan said: “We have even performed the PCR test to see if it is dengue virus but it is not the dengue virus.
“It is not Zika virus because Zika virus behaves differently.
“There is also little chances of this virus being any unknown variant of the dengue virus.”
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Because of the dengue epidemic, hospitals in Karachi have experienced a shortage of random units of platelets.
Health experts have, consequently, encouraged people to employ preventative measures.
Diseases like dengue fever and malaria are spread by infected mosquitos of the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus varieties.
Preventative measures include wearing long sleeves and trousers to avoid mosquito bites, as well as wearing mosquito repellant and using netting around doors and windows.
According to molecular scientist Dr Muhammad Zohaib, people across Karachi have been struggling to secure platelets for their ill loved ones.
Platelets, or thrombocytes, are the smallest units of blood cells that form in bone marrow and bind together to form blood clots.
Low platelet counts can result in excessive bruising, prolonged bleeding from cuts, fatigue and blood in stool and urine.
Dr Zohaib said: “Owing to this mysterious viral disease in addition to growing number of dengue fever cases, there is an extreme shortage of mega units of platelets as well as random units in the city.
“People are moving from pillar to post for mega units and random platelets units for their loved ones.”
Dr Zeeshan Hussain, senior hemato-pathologist, added: “So far, this virus has not caused haemorrhagic fever by reducing platelets of a patient where bleeding start.
“Most of the patients infected with this unknown virus are responding to conventional treatment.”
The first confirmed outbreak of dengue fever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), occurred in 1994.
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