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WHO tests show dengue along with chikungunya in Sudan’s Kassala

October 10 - 2018 KASSALA
Aedes aegypti, the principal mosquito vector of chikungunya and dengue viruses (File photo: vectorbase.org)
Aedes aegypti, the principal mosquito vector of chikungunya and dengue viruses (File photo: vectorbase.org)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed in a report that laboratory tests of samples from the infected people in Sudan’s Kassala state show cases of dengue fever along with chikungunya.

The Ministry of Health in Kassala reported that the total number of people infected with chikungunya fever has been 15,944 cases until Thursday. The dengue virus is carried by the same mosquitos that carry chikungunya. The infection causes flu-like illness, and occasionally develops into a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue (also known as Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever).

The residents of Kassala have complained of a ‘terrible deterioration in health services’ and the environment of Kassala hospital, which has a shortage of medical staff. They pointed out that the peripheral health centres are also experiencing overcrowding of patients.

Briefing

The Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported last week that Second Vice-President Osman Kibir received Adam Jamaa, Governor of Kassala State, in his office at the Republican Palace in Khartoum.

The governor informed Kibir about the health situation in Kassala and the efforts being done by the state and federal governments to improve the situation. 

Jama told reporters in mid-September that seven chikungunya patients had died. Later, he denied that people had died of the infectious disease.

Outbreak

The outbreak of chikungunya fever, popularly known as kankasha, began in August after heavy rains hit the state and El Gash river flooded large pieces of land.

Over a week ago, health sources told Radio Dabanga that the number of patients admitted to health centres and private clinics in the eastern Sudanese state is still increasing. They complained that the Ministry of Health is distributing painkillers only.

Government officials reported that at least 13,400 people in Kassala are infected with the mosquito-borne disease.

Vector

Medics lament the fact that there are no well-equipped laboratories in the state. “Blood samples can only be analysed in Port Sudan or Khartoum,” one of them explained. “As transport is difficult because of the rains, if not impossible at the countryside, many people die without a medical examination.”

Medical doctor and university professor Tajeldin Mohamedein told this station at the time that he does not rule out the presence of dengue fever in Kassala as well. “The only solution is to combat the vector of the disease,” he said.

Activists are calling on social media for support to halt the epidemic. On Twitter for example the hashtag #KassalaIsDying is being used (#كسلا_تحتضر). They accuse the Sudanese authorities of sweeping the real numbers of infected people under the carpet, and criticise them for not doing enough. 

Chikungunya is a virus transmitted by the same kind of mosquito that spreads the dengue and zika viruses. It is characterised by an abrupt onset of fever, frequently accompanied by joint pain. There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain. Most patients recover fully within weeks, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death.


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