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Dengue outbreak on course to break all records

  • Published at 01:22 am July 27th, 2019
Dengue-Mahmud Hossain Opu-Dhaka Tribune
File photo of a mother-child pair with dengue sits inside a protective net in this photo taken at Bangladesh Shishu Hospital Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The number of patients hospitalized in nearly seven months of this year is close to surpassing the highest tally in 20 years

The number of people admitted to hospitals with dengue infection this year is well on its way to surpass the highest annual tally of dengue cases in the last two decades, official data indicates.

This year, a total of 9,657 dengue patients were reported to have been hospitalized until Friday since January 1, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

With hospitals overflowing with patients and the rising number, dengue is all set to break the previous record – which was 10,148 in 2018 – by today or tomorrow.

Despite that, the Dhaka city authorities corporations as well as top government officials continue to say that the situation is “under control,” whereas medical officials fear that this year's outbreak might become the worst since the first outbreak in 2000.

The first dengue case in Bangladesh was recorded in 2000. Till Friday, a total of 59,823 patients have been diagnosed with the infection, 305 of whom died.

The number of patients hospitalized crossed the 6,000 mark four times since 2000 – with 6,232 in 2002, 6,060 in 2016, 10,148 in 2018 and 9,657 so far this year.

Dengue, a mosquito-borne virus, spreads among humans through its carrier Aedes mosquito. The disease has no known cure or vaccine yet.

Dengue spreading in districts

Between January 1 and July 26 in 2019, a total of 9,657 patients were admitted and eight people died in different hospitals, according to the DGHS.

In July alone, 289 people on average were hospitalized every day. At least 7,513 patients were admitted to hospitals in the first 26 days of July, while four patients died, according to the latest DGHS control room data. 

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However, unofficially the death toll this year stands at 27.

The current situation has left hospitals and clinics — both state-run and private — in Dhaka and elsewhere, struggling to provide services to dengue patients, with Dhaka in the worst situation.

The DGHS data shows that the number of dengue diagnoses is on the rise outside Dhaka as well, as 247 cases have been reported so far in different districts under four divisions. Among them, 56 were reported in Dhaka division (except Dhaka city), 105 in Chittagong, 51 in Khulna, and 35 in Barisal.

In Feni, a total of 24 patients have been diagnosed with dengue, all returnees from Dhaka.

Dr Abu Taher Patwary, resident medical officer Feni Modern Sadar Hospital, said they sent one patient, named Mohiuddin, to Dhaka as he was in critical condition.

Feni Civil Surgeon Dr Niatuzzaman said all the patients that are currently hospitalized in Feni contracted the disease in Dhaka.

In Rajshahi, 23 people were diagnosed with dengue and admitted to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH).

Among them, Atik Hasan, 25, a police constable, is in critical condition and is in the Intensive Care Unit since Wednesday.

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Dr Mahbubur Rahman Khan Badsha, professor at the RMCH medicine department, said the situation relatively safer in Rajshahi as it is a clean city, but the patients that are getting hospitalized there are getting infected with dengue virus in other districts.

He urged the city corporations to spray insecticides in bus and trains, too, to prevent dengue.

In Bogra, 28 people are undergoing treatment in Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College Hospital (SZMCH). 

Dr Arifur Rahman, assistant director of the SZMCH, said the dengue patients that were admitted there had recently been to Dhaka, and considering the trend of admission, more patients would likely come in.

Bogra Civil Surgeon Dr Gausul Azim Chowdhury, however, said that there is no information on dengue infection from the 12 hospitals under his jurisdiction, and the SZMCH is not under his jurisdiction.

Also Read- Why is dengue still not an epidemic?

Amid growing concerns, top government officials continue to claime that dengue outbreak is under control and is not at a stage to be called an epidemic.

The High Court on July 17 said the dengue situation in Dhakawas nothing short of an epidemic, while the World Health Organization (WHO) last week described the situation in Bangladesh as “alarming” last week.

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Friday urged everyone to build up a social movement to prevent the viral fever from spreading further.

Also Read- Quader: No scope to take dengue lightly

"There is no way to ignore the outbreak of dengue, and the party is concerned about the situation," he said, adding that the dengue outbreak was not limited to Bangladesh only, and countries like China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines were “also suffering from it.”

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon on Thursday claimed that the media was exaggerating the number of dengue patients and spreading rumours.

But Rashid-e-Mahbub, former president of Bangladesh Medical Association, and Prof Dr Mohammad Lutful Ehsan Fatmi, head of the paediatric department at Holy Family Red Crescent Hospital, said the current situation of dengue can be termed an epidemic.

Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Md Atiqul Islam on Friday said people would get free dengue fever tests at 52 health centres in Dhaka from Monday.

The DSCC mayor, in the meantime, said the city corporation was working to distribute aerosol sprays among the city's schools – free of cost – with the aim to protect students from mosquito and keep dengue fever in check.

Fazlur Rahman Raju in Dhaka, Dulal Abdullah in Rajshahi, Md Nazmul Huda Nasim in Bogra, and Rafiqul Islam in Feni contributed to this report