In a move to lower the risk of dengue infection in the province, the Punjab Department of Fisheries is promoting the release of tilapia fish into public and private waterways. The tilapia feed voraciously on many types of insects, including the larvae of mosquitoes that can transmit dengue fever. The war on mosquitoes has demanded a significant effort by the government due to the historical problems with the disease in the Province. Combined control efforts by the government seem to be having an effect in Punjab this year with only sporadic cases being reported, compared with nearly 20,000 confirmed cases in 2011. The Department has recently published a poster promoting the activity.
Dengue fever is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitos in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. It is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death. In recent years, transmission has increased predominantly in urban and semi-urban areas and has become a major international, public health concern.
In fact, dengue is the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world. In the last 50 years, incidence has increased 30-fold with increasing geographic expansion to new countries and, in the present decade, from urban to rural settings. Across the globe, an estimated 50 million dengue infections occur annually, and approximately 2.5 billion people live in dengue endemic countries.