NIH confirms measles outbreak, not toxic gas caused Keamari deaths

Karachi (HRNW) The truth of the mysterious disease which claimed the lives of 20 people in a village in Keamari District of Karachi has finally come to light after samples collected from the village showed the presence of the measles virus.

A report on the samples collected from Ali Mohammad Goth in Union Council-8 of Mawach Goth in Keamari district stated that of the samples taken from six individuals, four had tested positive for measles, suggesting a measles outbreak in the area.

The report, prepared by the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Virology Department in Islamabad a copy of which is available with media, showed that 30 samples were taken from children and adults.

They were tested for the presence of dengue, mumps, measles and rubella.

Of these, four children tested positive for measles while the adult tested positive for dengue.

The children suffering from measles were aged two, two three and six. There were two boys and two girls who tested positive for measles.

The adult who tested positive for dengue was a 2-year-old female.

The results mean that there is likely a measles outbreak in the village, rather than the presence of any toxic gases due to industrial work – which was echoed in a report by the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) earlier in the week.

The outbreak of measles in the village is unsurprising given that last week, when alarm was raised over mysterious deaths in Ali Mohammad goth, the health department had on January 26 written to Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP) Fellow and Regional Disease Surveillance Response Unit (RDSRU) Dr Mudassar Hussain, asking him to investigate a suspected measles outbreak in Keamari after five cases were reported.

“You are advised to investigate the outbreak and identify the associated risk factors as well as fix the responsibility and submit the report within 24 hours to the undersigned for onward transmission to higher authority,” the letter by Sindh Health Services Director General read.

It is pertinent to note that there is no vaccination center in the area that ensures vaccination of all children against diseases such as measles and polio.

Moreover, sources in the Emergency Program on Immunization (EPI) had previously suggested that the ratio of vaccine refusal was high in these areas, around 60%-70%.

On the other hand, locals claim vaccinators simply do not visit their locality.