Via ReliefWeb, a report from the EastAfrican: Public health nightmare: East Africa put on high alert over dengue fever outbreak. Excerpt:
At the Ubungo bus terminus outside Dar es Salaam’s central business district, a contingent of law enforcers and officials from the Surface and Maritime Transport Agency (Sumatra) swarm on to buses headed out to the countryside.
Armed with knapsack sprayers, the officials get busy fumigating the buses. While this leaves passengers with mixed feelings, especially due to the resultant delays, the exercise is part of a new campaign against dengue fever, that has lately hit the capital city and other parts of the country.
The government has initiated the campaign to kill mosquitoes to stop the spread of the disease to other regions which the buses serve.
Bus operators are not amused, as they have to part with $40 for the compulsory service, but they have been left with no choice, with government data indicating that the disease has claimed three lives and left hundreds hospitalised.
The government has warned those defying the directive to have their vehicles fumigated that their licences will be withdrawn.
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has distributed dengue rapid diagnostic kits to all public health centres in the country to deal with any emerging cases of the fever.
Across the border in Kenya, researchers at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) said on Thursday they had heightened surveillance on the Kenyan Coast and north, which are considered high risk areas.
Such is the level of alertness that the dengue fever outbreak in Tanzania has triggered in East Africa, especially among the countries bordering the Indian Ocean coastline. The viral disease, which has no cure, is posing a public health nightmare in the region.
Official reports from the Tanzanian Health Ministry show that more than 400 patients in Dar es Salaam have been diagnosed with dengue fever over the past four months and three have died.
Dengue fever, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is common in tropical regions, but scientists believe that climate change is making the mosquitoes more prevalent in the region. Cross-border migrations accelerate transmission of the virus, public health officials say.
Dengue fever is said to affect about 390 million people every year, and is particularly prevalent on the East African coast. Kemri researchers said the disease is a major problem in Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti, which have reported sporadic cases before and are at a high risk of outbreaks.