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Dhaka Tribune

How climate change is amplifying dengue outbreak

Within the span of 24 hours, seven new dengue patients were admitted

Update : 10 Jul 2023, 10:30 PM

Dengue is on a lengthening stretch nationwide. Cases have been reported in nearly every district, primarily attributed to the adverse effects of climate change.

The situation in Khulna has become particularly conducive to dengue outbreaks due to heavy rainfall, waterlogging, flooding, higher temperatures and irregular shifts in the region's traditional seasons.

Dr Shailendranath Biswas, a medicine specialist at Khulna Medical College Hospital, said climate change has led to a decrease in surrounding vegetation, resulting in higher temperatures. This change in temperature affects individuals of all ages, causing such symptoms as fever, cold, sneezing, and cough. Children are particularly susceptible to viral fever, viral pneumonia, dengue, and diarrhoea. 

The doctor also emphasized the importance of raising awareness among the public and taking necessary measures to combat dengue. 

He stressed the significance of cleaning dengue-prone areas and seeking local treatment for fever instead of overcrowding city hospitals. By doing so, the patient load in urban healthcare facilities can be alleviated.

Dengue cases increasing

Resident Officer (RMO) Dr Suhash Ranjan Halder said that a total of 76 patients have received treatment for dengue at KMCH so far this year. 

Within the span of 24 hours till Sunday morning, seven new dengue patients were admitted. Currently, the hospital is providing treatment to 19 patients.

Dr Monjurul Murshid, Director of Khulna Divisional Health Directorate (Health), acknowledged the rise in dengue cases in the Khulna Division compared to the previous year. However, he held out the assurance that no fatalities due to dengue fever have been reported thus far in the department.

At this time last year, the dengue situation in Bangladesh was considerably better. This year's official data showed that 76 people died of dengue till yesterday. 

In 2022, at least 281 people died of dengue, and only one death was reported between January and June.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque, warning of the dengue outbreak, said: “We are currently facing a prevalent issue of mosquitoes and dengue. If we do not take precautions starting now, the situation will worsen.” 

Children suffering most

Due to weather fluctuations, children are prone to respiratory problems, fever, cold, cough, and diarrhoea. 

Reports indicate that families, especially children, residing in various areas such as Khulna Khalishpur, Kashipur, Basthara, Baikali, Goalkhali, Daulatpur, Deyana, Pabla, Rishipara, Madhyadanga, Religate, Maniktala, Phulbarigate, Senpara, Shiromani, Atra, and Gilatala, are experiencing a surge in cases of fever, cold, and cough.

To mitigate these conditions, doctors advise the use of paracetamol, antihistamines, consuming clean liquids, maintaining regular hygiene practices, staying in cool environments, and refraining from taking antibiotics without consulting a doctor.

Dr Md Barkat Ali, assistant professor and Head of the Pediatric Department at Khulna Gazi Medical College, specializing in neonatal, child, and adolescent health, noted that the increasing temperature caused by climate change, coupled with the reduction of vegetation, affects individuals of all ages. 

Consequently, people struggle to regulate their body temperature, leading to changes in the body and increased perspiration.

Prolonged duration of illness

Moktadir Babu, a businessman, disclosed that all restaurant employees have been affected by viral fever, including himself. While he has now recovered, he mentioned the prolonged duration of the illness, with weak physical strength despite seeking medical attention.

Najma Khatun, a housewife, observed that with the transition from summer to the rainy season, households often encounter a recurring pattern of fever, cold, and cough. Despite the shift in seasons, the daytime temperature remains hot, and sudden rainfall brings about a sense of chill. Children find it particularly challenging to adapt to these weather changes. 

She mentioned administering Napa syrup, without antibiotics, to her five-month-old daughter.

Liton, a businessman, described his ongoing battle with fever caused by monsoon water. He highlighted the loss of taste and the recurrence of fever even after taking Napa tablets. His body continues to feel weak after recovering from the illness.

Md Sohail Rana, owner of Rimi Medical Hall, said that during seasonal transitions, a significant number of children experience fever, cold, cough, and diarrhoea. Additionally, adults are also susceptible to fever and cold symptoms.

Situation at KMCH

Dr Niaz Mustafi Chowdhury, deputy director of KMCH, said that the number of dengue patients typically increases during the monsoon season. 

He added that there is an adequate supply of medication for treating dengue patients in hospitals, and doctors are available around the clock to provide services. 

Dr Chowdhury explained that separate dengue corners have been established based on the patients' condition, with individuals often admitted to the hospital initially with fever, and subsequently tested to confirm dengue fever. 

The Medicine Department has designated five units with a total of 34 beds exclusively for dengue patients—16 beds for men, 16 for women, and two beds for children.

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