Epidemics In Pakistan From 2010-2019
Here are some of the epidemics that we lived in fear of in the past ten years:
Dengue makes itself known- 2011
Largely an unknown disease for most of the country, dengue blew out of hand when in 2011 it swept across Punjab, taking down many in its wake. The first few cases surfaced after monsoons, but by November, they number of infected patients had crossed 21,000. Cases were reported from all over Punjab, with Lahore being the worst hit area. After claiming 300 lives, the epidemic receded. By the next year, when Punjab Government had greatly increased preventive measures and awareness campaigns, the disease was more or less controlled.
Polio outbreak again in 2014
Pakistan’s longstanding and bloody battle with polio took a severe hit when, from 2012 to 2013, polio cases jumped by a worrying 57%, from 58 cases in 2012 to 91 cases in 2013. In the same period, Peshawar became the “world’s largest reservoir” of the polio virus, as per World Health organization (WHO), an alarming development for a city of almost two million.
Then, matters escalated even further in 2014, with 295 cases recorded by year end. The number of infected towns and cities also nearly doubled, from 22 in 2014 to 40 in 2014.
By 2015, the virus outbreak was successfully contained, with only 54 cases being recorded, an 80 percent fall.
XDR makes a terrifying debut in 2016
In November 2016, Hyderabad earned the unenviable distinction of the being the city where a terrifying new viral epidemic was about to unveil itself to unsuspecting authorities. Extremely Drug Resistant (XDR) Typhoid was a particular strain of the bacteria that was resistant to all but one antibiotic. Between 2016 and 2019, almost 15,000 cases of XDR were reported in Sindh, the majority of them being children less than 15 years of age.
In 2019, a ground-breaking new typhoid vaccine was tested in extensive trials in Nepal, and is expected to be useful in the battle against XDR Typhoid. In November, Pakistan launched an expanded immunization program in the hopes of vaccinating 10.1 million children.
Measles outbreak in 2013
Pakistan has had periodic outbreaks of measles, a potentially fatal viral infection easily preventable with vaccines. In early 2012, an outbreak in Sindh spread quickly to Punjab, with almost 25,839 suspected cases and as many as 570 deaths. By mid-2013, cases were being reported all the way from Balochistan.
Floods in Sindh in the preceding three consecutive years were blamed for impacting vaccination programs and immunization coverage.
Dengue eruption in 2019
Having conquered dengue after it ran rampage through Punjab in 2011, it was thought that the disease was under control, minor outbreaks in Peshawar notwithstanding.
And then came 2019, when under a new government, Punjab became the breeding ground for the largest outbreak of the deadly virus the country had ever witnessed.
A record-breaking high of 44,000 cases was recorded by November. By comparison, the 2011 epidemic had infected 27,000 cases. The number of deaths, however, was less, with 66 deaths in 2019 as compared to 370 in 2011.
Islamabad and Rawalpindi were hit the worst with a combined total of 12,433 infections and 22 deaths.
AIDS sweeps through children in Larkana in 2019
After 15 children were admitted to various hospitals in Larkana, Sindh, with persistent fever. The mystery disease that was ravaging through their bodies was, shockingly, found to be HIV/AIDS. A wave of diagnoses spread through the frightened city, where tens of thousands were tested, and over 1,200 cases were identified, most of whom were children. Boys were predominantly affected.
As spate upon spate of new cases made their way to media headlines, the cause of the outbreak was narrowed down to quacks reusing syringes on their patients, most of whom are children.
Leishmaniasis spreads across tribal districts in 2018 & 2019
The tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were stormed by a severe epidemic of Leshmaniasis, a disease caused by the bite of sand flies. Between 2018 and 2019, the total number of cases reached almost 5000, with Nowshera, Karak, Mardan, Mohmand and Khyber being the worst affected. A sizable number of cases were reported in Peshawar as well.
The spread of the disease was triggered by deforestation and global warming, however, the KP government had run out of the injection that treats the disease.
HIV barrels through a small village in Punjab 2018
Health authorities were taken aback when KotImrana, a small village in Sargodha district, was found to have suffered an outbreak of HIV that took the incidence of the disease from 1.29 percent to 13.38 percent.
Within a few months, HIV had infected 669 people out of a total population of 5000. The outbreak was once again blamed on quacks using infected syringes.
Polio remains unconquered with outbreak in 2019
Having come tantalizingly close to eradictating polio in the preceding years, 2019 proved to be a year of terrible disappointment as under Babar Atta, the polio eradication program faltered to disastrous results.
As the year draws to a close, it is still impossible to give a final number of cases for 2019. As of 20 December, 111 cases had been confirmed. Almost daily diagnoses of new cases means that the final number cannot be printed as yet.
Chikungunya has a field day in Karachi in 2017
While dengue took center stage, another mosquito-borne illness spread through the beleaguered city of Karachi in 2017. Chikungunya, a viral infection that causes fever and joint-pain, infected as many as 4,000 cases were confirmed, with as many as 30,000 cases suspected to have gone undiagnosed. However, because of low mortality rates, the disease largely goes unnoticed, even when identified.