The authorities have been largely ineffective against dengue and chikungunya outbreaks
As Bangladesh attempts to recover from this year’s dengue epidemic, with government reports indicating that close to 87,000 people received treatment for it, a new mosquito-borne threat looms large -- the West Nile virus carried by the Culex mosquito.
It is concerning that, for the first time in Bangladesh, a person has been diagnosed with this dangerous virus that saw 180 deaths in Europe and 167 deaths in the US in 2018 -- the authorities now must do everything possible to ensure that there is no outbreak like the one we witnessed with dengue.
What makes the West Nile virus particularly worrisome is the fact that, at this point, there is no vaccination for it, and the only prevention method suggested is caution -- that is, to avoid being bitten by the mosquitoes altogether.
While the Culex mosquito breeds all year round, its breeding season begins in October and hits peak season between November and February, meaning that the time is now to step up the action.
To that end, it is encouraging to see that both city councils of Dhaka seem to be taking the matter seriously; they have stated that they have a comprehensive plan to destroy the breeding grounds of Culex mosquitoes, and we hope they are serious about the plan.
However, what also cannot be denied is that the authorities have been largely ineffective against dengue and chikungunya outbreaks in the past, leading to the general public and health experts being sceptical.
Therefore, we urge the authorities to follow through with their plans. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past.