Bangladesh dengue death toll nears 100

Dhaka, July 14 (EFE).- Hospitals in Bangladesh are currently overwhelmed with patients, and long queues are forming at labs as the country grapples with a dengue outbreak.

This comes amid a rising number of infections at the beginning of the monsoon season.

The health services department reported five new deaths from dengue in its latest report on Thursday, bringing the toll from the viral disease to 93 this year.

The figure is higher than usual at the start of monsoon, entomologists said.

At least 281 people died from dengue in 2022, the country’s worst outbreak in terms of fatalities.

Only 16 people died of dengue until July 14 last year, when the number of hospitalized cases was 3,759, as per the official figure.

The health authorities reported 1,239 new hospitalizations with dengue in 24 hours until 8 am Thursday, bringing the number of hospitalized patients with the disease to 17,382.

“This is a usual figure. We are witnessing an epidemic, and this is only mid-July. The condition is really terrible as far as dengue is concerned,” entomologist and former president of the Zoological Society of Bangladesh Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury told EFE.

The caseload is believed to be higher than reported as many people are still outside the government surveillance network.

“We only get data on hospitalized cases from 53 hospitals. Hundreds of hospitals do not give a figure, and many people also take treatment at home. The actual number of cases is 20 times higher than the official figure,” Chowdhury said.

Chowdhury blamed the authorities of Dhaka’s two city corporations, where most cases are reported, and the health department for never following the “standard procedure” to control dengue.

Dengue, a mosquito-borne viral infection that causes flu-like illness, is transmitted by female mosquitoes, mainly of the Aedes species.

The symptoms of the potentially deadly disease include headaches, muscle and joint pains, and body rashes.

Dengue cases usually start rising in July and come down in October.

“Dengue is no longer a seasonal problem. It will continue throughout the year,” entomologist and zoology professor at Jahangirnagar University Kabirul Bashar told EFE.

Kabirul blamed climate change, unplanned urbanization, poor water supply management, and human behavior as among the reasons for the worsening situation.

Bangladesh’s health department urged more community engagement to control the dengue situation.

“Dengue is not new. We have been dealing with it since 1960,” said Ahmedul Kabir, additional director general of the health directorate.

“We have preparation, technical aspects, clinical guidelines, training, hospital preparedness, everything. But we need community engagement. Public awareness has made a major contribution to destroying the breeding place of the Aedes mosquito,” he said.

Officials said the number of dengue cases is exceptionally high in Rohingya refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh, which house most of the 774,000 Rohingyas that have fled Myanmar due to military violence since August 2017.

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