According to clinicians and pathologists, several ‘mysterious viral fever’ cases are being witnessed in Karachi. The symptoms behave precisely like the dengue virus. Reduced platelets and white blood cell count in patients is reported. However, when tested for dengue, the result comes out to be negative.
A New Infection On The Rise?
Several physicians and hemato-pathologists from different hospitals of the city have confirmed the incidence. According to them, the dengue virus-like pathogen is circulating in Karachi. This pathogen is causing a disease that is acting similar to dengue fever and requires the same treatment protocols, but it is not dengue fever.
“For a couple of weeks, we are seeing cases of a viral fever. While the patients platelets and white blood cells are dropping, other clinical symptoms are also similar to the dengue fever. But when NS1 antigen of these patients is performed, their tests come out to be negative,” Prof Saeed Khan, head of molecular pathology at the Dow University of Health Sciences, said.
In light of the current dengue and the mysterious virus situation in the city, the hospitals and blood banks across Karachi face an acute shortage of mega units and random units of platelets. Clinicians are now advising people to take precautionary measures to prevent vector-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria.
According to Prof Khan, it could be another virus from the family of ‘Arboviruses’, causing diseases like dengue fever. “We have even performed the PCR test to see if it is dengue virus but it is not the dengue virus. It is not Zika virus because Zika virus behaves differently. There is also little chances of this virus being any unknown variant of the dengue virus,”
Dr. Zeeshan Hussain, a senior hemato-pathologist associated with a public sector health facility, said that fortunately, the mysterious viral fever resembling dengue had so far not resulted in any death. He added that they were treating patients infected with this virus as if they had contracted dengue.
“So far, this virus has not caused haemorrhagic fever by reducing platelets of a patient where bleeding starts. Most of the patients infected with this unknown virus are responding to conventional treatment,” Dr Hussain added.
Haematologist and physician Dr Saqib Ansari says that the phenome of patients having dengue-like symptoms and not testing positive is not new. We have seen multiple cases in this regard ever since 2008. However, more research needs to be done before coming to any conclusion.
“I have seen cases where patients were dropping platelets. However, their SGPT was on the rise and they had classic symptoms of dengue fever but their dengue test came out negative. There is a possibility that false-negative results are being reported. So, there is a need for more research in this regard,” Dr Ansari said.
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