04:20pm Tuesday 22 October 2019

Georgetown Researcher Warns of Health Disaster of “Epic Proportions” in Pakistan

Washington, DC — As the people of Pakistan suffer from severe flooding and landslides, the upcoming rainy season is feared to bring more death and destruction to the already-devastated region. Diseases such as malaria, cholera and gastroenteritis could trigger a health disaster of “epic proportions,” says Paul Roepe, co-director of the Center for Infectious Disease at Georgetown University Medical Center. He says multiple factors are creating “The Perfect Storm” that could lead to a health catastrophe.

“The potential malaria epidemic is very scary,” Roepe says. “In theory, tens of millions of people are at an increased risk. Humans don’t always die from malaria. People die if they have no pre-immunity and get no treatment. Many of the flood refugees are moving from areas where malaria is not endemic (so they have no pre-immunity) to areas where it is, and where the rainy season normally increases incidence by as much as 10 fold. So, it’s not just that more people are at risk of getting the disease because of all the flood and rain water breeding extra mosquitoes, there is also a significantly increased risk of malaria mortality.”

“Adding to the challenge of managing this disease is that there are several types of malaria,” explains Roepe. “We’re more familiar with hearing about malaria in African countries, where a particular type of the disease called falciparum malaria dominates. Unfortunately, malaria in Pakistan is both falciparum malaria and another type called vivax malaria. ”

Roepe is available for press interviews. Please contact Karen Mallet at 215-514-9751 or km463@georgetown.edu to arrange an appointment.

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), home to 60 percent of the university’s sponsored research funding.



Karen Mallet (media only)

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