A total 642 dengue cases have been recorded in the country, including 554 in Dhaka alone, from January till November 1 this year
Dengue, an Aedes mosquito-borne viral infection, is on the rise once again in Bangladesh.
A total 642 dengue cases have been recorded in the country, including 554 in Dhaka alone, from January till November 1 this year. Among the cases, 163 or 26% were recorded in October, according to data compiled by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The number of cases recorded in October is nearly 250% higher than the 47 cases recorded in September, as per data from the Health Emergency Operations Centre & Control Room of DGHS.
The recent death of a physician- Dr Jahidur Rashid Sumon, 42, founder of the Center for Medical Ultrasound & Doppler (CMUD) - at a private hospital in Dhaka on Sunday highlights the need for immediate action to combat the dengue menace. However, the case is yet to be confirmed by the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).
The re-arrival of dengue in Dhaka is particularly unwelcome this year, with the capital still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bangladesh experienced a massive dengue outbreak in 2019, when 101,354 people were hospitalized. According to health authorities, the mosquito-borne disease killed 179 people last year.
What is the situation now?
Bangladesh has recorded over 100 dengue infections in two months this year: January and October.
The country recorded 199 cases in January, 45 in February, 27 in March, 25 in April, 10 in May, 20 in June, 23 in July, 68 infections and a death in August, 47 infections in September and 163 infections in October, and 15 in November according to DGHS.
Out of the 642 patients admitted with dengue at different hospitals, 48 were under treatment as of November 1. Among the 48, 47 were in Dhaka and one in outer Dhaka.
IEDCR has so far received information on four deaths and completed investigation into two deaths, out of which one has been confirmed as a dengue related death.
What are the city corporations doing?
Both city corporations of Dhaka are taking quick steps to curb dengue related infections, claimed officials.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam said insecticide will be sprayed at the hospitals where dengue patients are undergoing treatment as well as at the areas where the houses of the patients are located.
“We will launch a 10 day long special mosquito prevention and cleanliness drive from November 2. Also, mobile courts will be operated during the time,” he said.
The mayor further said fourth generation insecticides have already been imported and some modern equipment has already been purchased to save city dwellers from the Aedes mosquito menace.
Dhaka South City Corporation Public Relations Officer M Abu Naser said their regular drive against Aedes mosquito prevention is ongoing and mobile courts are also being operated to destroy the breeding grounds of Aedes mosquitoes.
Nine areas under risks
At least 25 wards or nine areas under the two Dhaka city corporations are at risk of dengue infections, a government survey has found.
The Monsoon Aedes Survey 2020 by the National Malaria Elimination and Aedes Transmitted Disease Control Program of the Health Department found that six areas under DNCC and three under Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) are more prone to Aedes mosquito infestation than the rest of the capital.
The survey released in August also mentioned that multi-storey buildings account for more than half of the city’s Aedes mosquito breeding grounds.
The Breteau Index (BI) measures the number of water-holding containers infested with larvae per 100 houses.
The highest BI score of 43.3 was found in Kalyanpur, Paikpara, and Madhya Paikpara areas under Dhaka North ward No 11.
Meanwhile, Khilkhet, Kuril, and Nikunja areas of DNCC’s ward No17 jointly with Mir Hazaribagh, Dholaipar and Gandaria of ward No11 under DSCC registered 40 — the second-highest BI score across the city.
Shockingly, a whopping 51.34% of Aedes mosquito breeding grounds are in high-rises, whereas the figure for under-construction buildings is 20.32%.
Contrary to popular belief, slum areas appear to be less suited to Aedes population expansion as they make up just 12.83% of the city’s total mosquito breeding grounds.
Entomologist Kabirul Bashar said an analysis between 2000 and 2019 has found that monthly dengue infections peak in either August or September in most years, which is unlike this year.
“The number of cases is much higher than reported, and the cases are seeing a higher trend in October. This may be a result of climate change altering the pattern of vector-borne diseases,” said Bashar, also zoology professor at Jahangirnagar University.
The higher volume of rainfall in October may also be a reason for the spike in Aedes mosquitoes, he said.
The professor also pointed out that people used to maintain good hygiene in the early part of the coronavirus pandemic, but now they are becoming lax.
“The rainwater in the corner of the houses due to lax hygiene practices may be a reason there are Aedes mosquito breeding grounds,” he said.
“Many people avoided going into hospitals despite having fever in earlier months due to fear of Covid-19 transmission, which may have led to fewer cases being reported in the earlier months. Reporting of cases is rising now,” said the professor.
He suggested the city corporations continue their drives and activities throughout the year, instead of just during the mosquito season.
He also stressed the need to involve city dwellers in Aedes mosquito prevention.