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ISLAMABAD: Waterborne diseases have broken out in a big way after record monsoon rains, which have caused devastating floods due to which 1,486 people have died across the country.

According to officials and healthcare professionals, the flood-hit areas are now facing not just the spread of malaria and dengue but also that of gastro, diarrhoea, and skin diseases owing to the stagnant rainwater.

Islamabad the other day reported a total of 128 dengue cases which took the toll to 871 while four dengue deaths have also been reported in the federal capital. Moreover, the health authorities have fixed dengue test fee at Rs1,800 for private laboratories with strict warning for the violators.

Sindh has also reported over 200 dengue cases in the past 24 hours, of which, 137 cases were reported only in Karachi taking the provincial toll to 3,878. The province has also reported a total of nine deaths, of which, four took place during this month.

Karachi has become a hub of dengue fever as so far officially 1,337 cases have been confirmed while the areas inundated by the floods waters in Sindh are bracing for the worst dengue situation as millions of people are staying in temporary camps totally exposed to the dengue mosquitoes.

Punjab reported over 100 fresh dengue cases in the past 24 hours, of which, 60 cases emerged only in Lahore, wherein, hundreds of patients are admitted to dengue-dedicated wards. In Punjab, Lahore and Rawalpindi are worst dengue-affected regions where hundreds of people are admitted to hospitals.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) has reported 2,396 dengue cases during this season which according to the health officials are likely to intensify owing to floods and rains, especially in Nowshera, Charsadda, and Swat districts.

Moreover, as per information gathered by Business Recorder from other parts of the country, the stagnant floodwaters have created an epidemic-like situation as waterborne diseases are rapidly increasing in flood-affected areas, especially among children, as two girls died of gastroenteritis in Sindh's Khairpur district, according to the Sindh Health Department, many children are suffering from gastroenteritis and malaria.

Sindh provincial health authorities have claimed over 1.2 million flood-affected people have been affected by diseases across Sindh, 12,027 people have been affected by respiratory, asthma and chest diseases in 24 hours.

According to the health department, the cases of gastrointestinal, respiratory diseases, dengue, malaria, and diarrhoea are continuously increasing.

Dr Saleem Khan said that almost entire Balochistan has been affected by the heavy rains which caused massive floods and now contaminated rain waters in Dera Murad Jamali, Naseerabad, and Jafarabad, and other districts have started spreading gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, dengue, malaria, and other diseases. He said that in Balochistan owing to poor health facilities the flood-affected people especially children, pregnant women, and the elderly are falling ill and the authorities are unable to cope with the situation.

Epidemic diseases are also increasing in the flood-affected areas of Punjab, respiratory diseases, fever, cholera, eye and rash diseases have increased manifold in the flood-affected areas. According to the report, 54,427 people are suffering from respiratory diseases, 42,283 people are affected by skin diseases, 24,446 people are suffering from cholera in the flood-affected areas of Punjab. Apart from this, 24,675 flood victims have been affected by fever and 3,039 people have been affected by eye diseases.

Skin diseases caused by people living in wet conditions are already being widely reported. Dermatological fungal infections grow best on wet or damp skin. As people make their way through floods, they expose large parts of their skin to the microbes that live within the water.

Unable to wash clean afterwards, these bacteria and fungi thrive in skin folds under breasts, in the groin area and between toes causing intense itching, pain and skin breakdown, which in turn increases the risk of further infections.

According to health professionals, the stagnant flood waters are a major cause of rising mosquito populations and have become a breeding ground for mosquitos which bring with them vector-borne diseases, the most worrying being malaria and dengue fever.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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