U.N. says 300,000 Pakistan malaria cases

Oct. 12, 2010 at 2:40 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- A U.N. health agency said Tuesday nearly 300,000 suspected cases of malaria have been logged in Pakistan's flooded regions, slightly above the seasonal average.

The U.N. World Health Organization said in a release some confirmed cases of a severe form of the disease have been recorded since the end of July when the flooding began.

The agency said it is coordinating the deployment of preventive and curative measures in conjunction with the Pakistani Health Ministry's malaria control program and other aid agencies to control the epidemic.

"The total number of suspected malaria cases reported in flood-affected districts is only slightly higher than at the same period in previous years," Guido Sabatinelli, the WHO representative in Pakistan, said. "However, falciparum-malaria needs special consideration as it is responsible for severe cases and it can be fatal."

Malaria is common in rural areas of Pakistan during the country's two seasonal peaks -- in August, when the milder vivax-malaria is prevalent, and October, when the potentially fatal falciparum-malaria breaks out.

More than 1 million malaria cases are registered each year, WHO said. Twelve percent of people living in rural areas have the malaria parasite without exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

WHO has provided 320,700 rapid diagnostic tests kits and procured 145,000 long-lasting insecticidal nets. The agency last week sent 55,000 Arthemisine-based combination treatments for falciparum-malaria and 30,000 primaquine tablets to treat vivax-malaria.

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