The disease also appears to have become more infectious, doctors say
The dengue epidemic in the country has taken a greater toll on younger people than usual this year, with most of the people infected by the mosquito-borne disease being under the age of 20.
Physicians are also facing trouble implementing their regular clinical guidelines, as the disease appears to be more infectious this time around.
Doctors said there was no accurate data on the age distribution of all dengue patients this year, but they estimate that about 40% of the patients are under the age of 20. Data from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on the daily admissions corroborated the estimate.
According to the DGHS, 39.6% of the patients admitted to hospitals with dengue on Monday were aged under 20. The proportion was 49.8% on Sunday, 47.35% on September 4, 45.01% on September 3, and 41.98% on September 1.
Although no death from dengue was reported in 24 hours till Tuesday morning, a record 343 patients were hospitalised with the mosquito-borne disease, the DGHS said.
Sujit Kumar Roy, in charge of the paediatrics department at Central Hospital in Dhanmondi, said almost half of the patients admitted there with dengue were children.
Central Hospital had reported 641 dengue patients till Monday evening, the third highest number of cases at a single private hospital in the country, as per DGHS data.
Based on their experience with a sudden rise of dengue cases in 2019, physicians from several government hospitals said the disease appeared to have become more infectious this year. Where they previously had five days to treat a patient before the condition became critical, they now have just three or four days.
Ibrahim Khalil, assistant professor of the paediatric department at Mitford Hospital, said: “Previously, we thought there was no real chance of severe symptoms before day four. But the timeframe for treatment has decreased.”
Within three or four days, the patient's blood pressure begins to fall, water accumulates in the chest and abdomen, and the patient goes into shock, he added.
Dr Mohammad Monir Hossain, in-charge of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Dhaka Shishu Hospital and also head of the PICU at Universal Medical College Hospital, agreed that dengue appeared to be deadlier this time.
“Last year, about 5-10% of children experienced an expanded dengue syndrome. This year, it has increased to 30-35%. Multiple organs are being infected as well,” he added.
Dhaka Shishu Hospital Epidemiologist Kinkar Ghosh said it was concerning that a higher number of children were being admitted as dengue patients this year.
Dr Sujit Kumar Roy of Central Hospital said: “The situation can deteriorate very fast, so it will be wise for parents to rush to physicians if they suspect their children have dengue. Everyone has to stay alert.”