Dengue situation highly alarming this year

Dengue cases are on an alarming riseFile photo

The number of dengue cases reported in Barguna in the first two months of the year was 21. The number rose to 83 this year. However, no casualties have been reported so far this year. There was no casualty in the first two months of the last year as well.

However, the dengue situation is quite alarming this time, said Barguna civil surgeon Mohammad Fajlul Haque. He said, “We don’t have preventive arrangements. We only can ensure the treatment for the patients. But, it is the responsibility of the local government agencies to run mosquito extermination programmes.”

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Not only in Barguna, dengue cases has doubled in the first two months of the year as compared to last year. The dengue-related casualties almost doubled this year as well.

Public health experts, entomologists and physicians are saying the dengue situation this time is likely to be more severe. Transmission rate and casualties so far are indicating that. They cited four major concerns in that case. They are - inadequate mosquito extermination programmes outside Dhaka, lack of health services outside Dhaka, untimely rain and chances of contracting a different strains of dengue for the second time outside Dhaka.

The number of dengue patients across the country reached 1,394 as of 29 February. Some 17 dengue related casualties have been reported in this time. Some 732 dengue cases were reported in the first two months last year and some 9 dengue patients had died in that time.

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The total number of dengue patients last year was more than 321,000. Besides, some 1,705 people died of dengue last year. The first major dengue outbreak in the country was recorded in 2000. The number of dengue cases and casualties last year crossed the total number of dengue patients and related casualties recorded over the previous 22 years.

Experts had warned that dengue can spread massively given the high transmission rate right from the beginning last year. The prediction turned out to be true later.

For the first time, the number of patients outside Dhaka was twice the number of patients in the capital. The experts are fearing a new danger in this.

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There are four types of strains of dengue - Den 1, 2, 3 and 4. The number patients who contracted the Den-2 strain was the highest last year.

The physicians say if a patient contracts dengue for the second time or a different strain, then his or her physical condition becomes critical.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSSMMU) emeritus professor A B M Abdullah fears that the dengue situation may turn dreadful if it spreads more outside Dhaka.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, “We have enough health infrastructure at divisional and district levels. However, it will be hard to tackle the situation if the number of patients rises at the marginal level.”

Another problem outside Dhaka is the weak infrastructure to prevent mosquito infestation.  The ‘National Malaria Eradication and Aedes Disease Control Programme’ of the disease control unit under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) conducted a survey on larvae in 15 districts. It showed that the Aedes mosquito has spread even in remote villages.

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Outside Dhaka, the number of dengue patients was the highest in the Chattogram division in the first two months of the year.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) chief health officer (acting) Md Imam Hossain said, “I mainly work on preventive measures. And the malaria and mosquito control officer is in charge of the mosquito repellent programme.”

The experts feel the DGHS needs to start monitoring mosquitoes and dengue patients from right now, which is not the case. Besides, they need to involve people in the mosquito repellent programmes.

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Public health expert Mushtuq Husain said dengue spread even in the remote areas of the country last year. Most of the patients there had contracted dengue for the first time. If the situation cannot be controlled outside Dhaka, then those patients will be affected for the second time in addition to the newly infected patients.

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu