Dengue: IEDCR blames lack of awareness, late hospitalisation for higher deaths

A boy sits on the hospital bed as he has been hospitalised with dengue in the capital’s Mugda Medical College and Hospital on 11 July 2023.Tanvir Ahammed

Health experts on Sunday attributed the highest number of dengue-related deaths to a lack of awareness and delayed hospitalization. The death toll from this mosquito-borne disease has already surpassed 300 marks, BSS reports.

“Dengue fatality rate is very high this year as people are not aware enough about the disease . . . late hospitalization is another reason for death caused by dengue,” Director of The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Professor Tahmina Shirin told BSS.

“We are observing that people are not immediately going to doctors after being affected by dengue fever, which is eventually worsening conditions of patients,” she added.

Among the four serotypes of dengue viruses - Den-1, Den-2, Den-3, and Den-4 - Tahmina stated that Den-2 and Den-3 are more active this year. She emphasised that in most cases, dengue symptoms may not be immediately apparent, so it is crucial for people to visit doctors promptly after experiencing fever.

Tahmina stressed the importance of taking adequate preventive measures, particularly in eliminating breeding sources of the Aedes mosquito to prevent dengue outbreaks. She described how city dwellers must be cautious about stagnant water, as it serves as the main breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes.

The IEDCR director said even if a small quantity of stagnant water in any broken pot, tyre, vase or container inside and outside homes and offices, can be a breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes.

Bangladesh has been grappling with a severe dengue outbreak, with July being the deadliest month since the detection of the mosquito-borne disease in 2000. Experts have predicted that the number of dengue cases may continue to increase during the current month and the following two months.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), in July alone, there were 43,854 confirmed dengue cases with 204 deaths. The situation remains alarming as 1,4900 dengue positive cases were recorded and 62 people died from the disease in the first six days of August.

Talking to BSS, several entomologists said that dengue has now emerged as an epidemic as it spread all over the country, but observed that the agencies concerned, particularly city corporations, could not take the required steps to annihilate mosquitoes.

Kabirul Bashar, professor of the Department of Zoology of Jahangirnagar University, said, “Generally, Aedes mosquitoes are found in residential areas...breeding sources of Aedes mosquitoes are inside and outside houses.”

Analyzing the life cycle of Aedes mosquito, he termed it as a domestic species, saying that its management system will be different from other species of mosquito.

“So, it is very important to understand the reproductive nature and life cycle of the Aedes mosquito to take effective measures for prevention of outbreaks,” he added.

Bashar, also an eminent entomologist, said dengue has emerged as a massive health burden in the country as authorities are handling the mosquito-borne disease following traditional methods.

“We need to recruit health workers, who will be assigned to oversee a specific number of houses in particular areas in Dhaka city throughout the year,” Bashar said, adding a year-long monitoring system must be introduced to destroy potential breeding sources of Aedes mosquitoes.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) is constantly mapping the overall dengue situation and it is taking initiative accordingly to expand treatment facilities to handle the mosquito-borne disease.

“The dengue situation is gradually deteriorating as a large numbers of people are being infected everyday across the country,” a top official of DGHS said.

As part of the expansion of healthcare facilities, he said, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) hospital at Mohakhali with an 800-bed capacity has been dedicated to ensuring medical facilities to treat dengue infected people. 

The DGHS official said treatment facilities are expanding at all public hospitals and other healthcare services across the country to provide medical services for gradually increased dengue patients.