By Irfan Mohammed
JEDDAH — With the dengue virus raising its ugly head again in Jeddah, health officials have intensified their campaign against the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes.
The officials fear that the disease would reach epidemic proportions in coming months unless radical measures are taken to eradicate the vector population.
According to Health Ministry sources, some 4,000 dengue cases were reported in 2016, which is highest number in recent years.
In the first quarter of 2017, over 700 cases were recorded and the ministry expects the number for the months of April, May and June to be higher.
The Health Ministry has identified four areas where a high number of dengue cases have been reported. These include Aziziyah, Safa, Hamdaniah and Al-Balad. Officials identified several potential breeding sites and found huge amounts of mosquito larvae in these districts. Some of these areas suffer from acute shortage of water and residents tend to store water in open buckets, which provide an ideal breeding place for mosquitoes.
No vaccine is available to prevent dengue fever and precautionary measures against the disease are the primary focus of the Health Ministry’s campaign.
The ministry launched a new campaign under the theme Ainak Alaiha Lil Had Min Takasura (Your eye on preventing their reproduction) and field teams have been reaching out to the people through mosques, malls, parks and other public places.
The ministry has pressed more than 2,000 people, including volunteers, into dengue eradication awareness campaign in the city.
Many mosques in the city have witnessed an unusual trend of delivering awareness tips on dengue, besides a focus on the disease in Friday sermons. Health officials have been delivering dengue awareness tips and distributing leaflets at mosques.
“Simple matters that we ignore can lead to the proliferation of mosquitoes. These include air conditioning units, unclean kitchen and toilets, water storage containers and even scrap,” explained Health Ministry official Ibrahim Abdullah Zahrani.
He told Saudi Gazette that the children are most vulnerable to the disease and parents are required to take preventive measures at their homes by ensuring adequate hygienic conditions, especially by avoiding water stagnation.
The Health Ministry teams are visiting 125 government schools, 15 international schools and 120 mosques in the city. Also special attention has been given to spread the message through social media. Officials said they were sending out the messages in several foreign languages, in addition to Arabic.