Pakistan reporting dengue fever cases earlier than normal

Even without monsoon rains and high temperatures, public health experts have already started registering cases of dengue fever this year in Karachi, Pakistan.

Dr. Shakeel Aamir Mullick, the head of the Dengue Surveillance Cell at Civil Hospital, said that 29 cases of the fever have been reported and treated since the beginning of January. Four cases of dengue were identified last week, according to

"This disease is like influenza, which affects people throughout the year," Mullick said, reports.

Dengue cases are expected to surge in between August and November. Typically, according to the provincial surveillance authorities, the first quarter of the year sees relatively few cases.

Mullick said that 15 cases were reported in the first six months of 2011, but that the number then skyrocketed in the second half of the year.

All of the cases reported so far in Sindh province have occurred in Karachi. Last year, out of 1,079 dengue cases in the region, 858 were located in city, reports.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne infection that is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 100 million people are infected with dengue every year.