The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Gender, Community Development, the Elderly and Children, Prof Mpoki Ulisubisya, told The Guardian yesterday that surveillance sites will be set up in Dar es Salaam and Tanga.
“The ministry is aware of the outbreak of dengue fever in Dar es Salaam and 11 patients have been diagnosed with the disease,” said Ulisubisya, adding that outbreak control measures are being implemented.
According to the PS, confirmed cases have been diagnosed at two clinics in the city, IST and Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI).
He said the ministry in collaboration with the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the two clinics will continue to make diagnosis to uncover more cases of the disease if any.
The worst dengue fever outbreak in Tanzania occurred in 2014 when more than 400 patients in Dar es Salaam were diagnosed with the disease and at least three died.
They included Dr Gilbert Buberwa, a 36-year old medical specialist at the Temeke regional hospital in the city, who reportedly caught it while attending to the patients.
Dengue fever is said to affect about 390 million people in the world every year, and is particularly prevalent along the east African coast. This is why the surveillance announced by the health ministry yesterday will be mounted in the coastal metropolises of Dar es Salaam and Tanga.
In the aftermath of the last outbreak, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a global alert on the rise of vector-borne diseases, urging travellers to take precautions after it emerged that almost half of the world’s population was at risk to be infected by the virus.
The WHO message entitled ‘Small bite, big threat’ said the mosquito-borne disease was prevalent in at least 100 countries, putting more than 2.5 billion people — over 40 per cent of the world’s population — at risk.
According to the US-based Centre for Disease Control (CDC), most people infected have mild or no symptoms and about one in four display high fever as the main symptom.
Mild symptoms of dengue may be confused with other illnesses that cause fever and flu-like illness, CDC says.
Because there is no medicine or vaccine for dengue, health experts recommend prevention by preventing mosquito bites. Mosquitoes that spread dengue virus bite during the day and night.