SUDAN – The total number of suspected dengue fever cases in Sudan has exceeded 4,000 as the country struggles to battle one of its worst dengue fever outbreaks in years, the Sundanese health ministry reports.
Montasir Mohamed Osman, head of the health emergency and epidemic control directorate at the Sudanese Health Ministry, said in a statement that the wide spread of dengue fever was attributed to the heavy rains and lack of essential supplies such as pesticides and mosquito nets.
“There are 4,104 suspected cases of dengue fever, including 516 confirmed cases and 29 deaths,” the ministry said in a report adding the infectious disease has spread in nine Sudanese states.
Around 20 of the deaths were recorded in the southern Kordofan region, one of the areas where the outbreak was first reported by the Sudanese Doctors Committee in early November. Several local media outlets put the official number of cases as much higher.
Half of the country’s 18 states have registered cases and nine deaths recorded, including one child, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) who suspect the true number to be far higher.
Nima Saeed Abid, WHO’s chief in Sudan, said the confirmed cases were “the tip of the iceberg”.
“Some [people] present with mild cases, others consult traditional healers or just rely on home remedies and therefore do not report to the health facilities. What are reported to the health facilities are the most severe cases that require admission or medical care,” he said.
In a report published in November, the United Nations warned about the increasing trend of malaria cases as well as outbreaks of measles, dengue fever, and Hepatitis E in Sudan, calling the outbreaks of communicable diseases “a significant concern.”
Vector-borne diseases are on the rise in Sudan after recent floods. In North Kordofan, doctors recently called to declare the capital El Obeid a disaster area due to the outbreak of dengue fever.
Sudan is witnessing its worst outbreak of dengue fever in over a decade, especially in North and South Kordofan and Red Sea state, according to Director General of Emergencies at the Ministry of Health Muntasir Osman.
In North Kordofan state’s capital, El Obeid, photos of patients lying on the ground as hospitals run out of beds have circulated on social media. There are at least 1,200 cases suspected in North Kordofan, with 393 confirmed.
Following an announcement that the Ministry of Health is planning to liberalise pharmaceutical prices, the Professional Pharmacists Association warned that the decision will double medicine prices.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that occurs in tropical areas of the world, usually spreading near stagnant sources of water or in water storage tanks.
Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bite of mosquitos. Almost half of the world’s population, or about 4 billion people, live in areas with a risk of dengue.
At the height of Sudan’s rainy season in August and September, flash flooding killed at least 144 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes, along with roads and other vital infrastructure.
Dengue fever has flu-like symptoms and can often lead to organ failure and death. It has clinical symptoms of high fever, headache, aching band ones and muscles, and even bleeding gums and nose when it turns into severe form, is a mosquito-borne infection found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world.