Dengue scare grips people: Infections found in major cities

Dhaka, July 27 – Although outbreak of dengue is common during every monsoon since 2000, the year it first became an epidemic, this year the situation has taken a severe turn as the mosquito-borne disease has already infected more people than ever before in a calendar year, and claimed nine lives to boot.

Dengue statistics
Dengue patients admitted to the Shaheed Zia Medical College Hospital in Bogra City. UNB

So far more than 10,528 dengue cases have come to hospitals and 7849 have been released from hospitals. Every 24 hours nearly 700 new cases are being detected. The dengue attacked people include the UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka. The dead include a district civil surgeon.
At least 208 dengue cases have been reported from 15 districts outside Dhaka as the mosquito-borne viral disease continues to infect hundreds of people every day in the capital and elsewhere.
The rate of infection however, does not necessarily mean it is more fatal. The overwhelming majority of dengue cases can in fact be treated at home.
Besides infecting more and more people in the capital, this year has also recorded a higher number if dengue virus infections to spread outside Dhaka.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon on Friday said the prevalence of dengue virus in Dhaka “cannot yet be called an epidemic”, but that is hardly backed up by the number of patients infected by dengue at different government and private hospitals.
Official figures show that 10,528 people have been infected with dengue between January 1 and Thursday. Previously the highest number of people infected in a single year was 10,148 in 2018. Many hospitals outside the capital have also reported dengue cases.
Visiting different hospitals, the UNB correspondents found doctors struggling to handle the rising number of dengue patients and huge numbers of people with fever rushing to hospitals for dengue test.
Sales of anti-mosquito sprays and mosquito nets have been on the rise as panic gripped the city dwellers following the outbreak of the deadly disease.
Shakhawat Hossain, a media worker, found his nine-year-old son suffering from fever when he went home after office on the night of July 18. The fever turned severe overnight.
A doctor suggested he admit his son to a hospital immediately as he was found infected by dengue next morning and then the struggle began, Shakhawat narrated.
Most hospitals lacked empty beds but somehow Shakhawat managed one at a government hospital.
Saleh Uddin Jinnah, a teacher by profession, sent his son Mukul to a private university for higher education in the capital.
On June 24, Jinnah got worried hearing that his son was lying senseless at his university hostel and rushed to the capital immediately.
In the meantime, Mukul’s friends admitted him to a government hospital.
“Tension, blood collection hazards and hospital expense made me mad at that time,” he said.
The worsening dengue situation with 600 patients’ admission to hospitals daily has created panic among the city-dwellers.
Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Friday validated the fear by saying that there is no scope to take dengue lightly.
The High Court on July 25 dubbed the existing dengue scenario in the country worrying. “Why isn’t the medicine (to exterminate mosquitoes) working?” the court asked, noting that the people are terrified.
Sayeed Khokon, Mayor, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) on July 20 urged city dwellers to remain alert and not to be panic, claiming that the dengue prevalence in Bangladesh is under control compared to other countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia
Md Atiqul Islam, Mayor, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), on Friday offered free dengue tests at 52 health centres from Monday. Anyone can get the health centres’ location by calling the control room at 01932665544.
Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital Assistant Prof Dr Mostafizur Rahman told UNB that he does not suggest all dengue patients get admitted to hospitals.
“Only 10 percent patients require hospitalisation and rest can be treated at home,“Dr Mostafizur added.
According to the World Health Organization, dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. This may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. Up to this point the fever can generally be treated at home.
In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into severe dengue, also known as dengue haemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage. These are the cases that require hospitalisation, in line with Dr Mostafizur’s advice.
Directorate General of Health Services control room’s deputy director Dr Ayesha Akhter admitted that they are failing to provide the exact number of dengue patients due to inadequate information flow about dengue infection from outside the capital.
In Khulna division, 71 dengue patients were identified in July in Khulna, Jashore, Jhenaidah, Narail, Kushtia, Meherpur and Bagerhat districts. Of them, 24 are being treated at Khulna Medical College Hospital, nine at Khulna City Medical College Hospital and three others at Gazi Medical College in Khulna.
Two people reportedly died of dengue so far in the division but the health department said the causes of deaths were not examined properly.
Dr Ferdousi Akter, assistant director of Khulna Health Department, said a dengue cell was opened on July 3.
In Chittagong, the number of dengue patients increased shot up in the last two weeks. Chattogram civil surgeon’s office said at least five dengue patients are being hospitalised in the city every day.
So far, 49 people were diagnosed with dengue but two-thirds of them had been cured.
Civil Surgeon Dr Azizur Rahman Siddiqui said 38 people were infected with dengue between July 20 and July 26. Only three cases were reported in the last six months.
On Friday, seven new dengue patients were identified, he said.
In Feni, 44 people were admitted to the Sadar Hospital with dengue fever in the last 15 days. Ten of them have been shifted to Dhaka while the Sadar Hospital is treating 21 others, said Resident Medical Officer Abu Taher Patwari.
Civil Surgeon Dr Neyatuzzaman said patients, who are being treated, were infected during their stay in Dhaka or Chattogram.
What is dengue?
Dengue, a mosquito-borne viral infection, causes a flu-like illness, and occasionally develops into a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue.
Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bite of infected Aedes species mosquitoes. It is estimated that about half of the world’s population is now at risk, according to WHO.
There is no specific treatment for dengue or severe dengue, but early detection and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates below 1 percent.
Each year, up to 400 million people are infected with dengue, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 100 million people get sick from infection, and 22,000 die from severe dengue.
In Rangpur, 21 people were admitted to Rangpur Medical College Hospital in the last eight days. Acting RMCH Director Dr Sultan Ahmed said the patients were out of danger.
In Sherpur, three people were diagnosed with dengue. Resident Medical Officer (RMO) Khairul Kabir Suman said all of them had returned home with heavy fever from Dhaka.
In Pirojpur, a dengue patient was hospitalised in Swarupkathi upazila, said Dr Asaduzzaman, RMO of the Upazila Health Complex.
It is the only reported case in the district.
In Pabna, 12 people were admitted to the Sadar Hospital in the last four days. Most of them recently returned from Dhaka.
Dr Nazmul Islam, medicine specialist of Sadar Hospital, said 10 of them were infected with dengue in Dhaka. Besides, two locals were also hospitalised with dengue fever.
Civil Surgeon Mehedi Iqbal said there is no reason to worry.
In Laxmipur, six dengue cases were reported until Saturday afternoon. A patient was taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital as his condition deteriorated, said Anwar Hossain, resident medical officer of Laxmipur Sadar Hospital.
In Cox’s Bazar, a young girl died of dengue on Saturday afternoon. Nineteen-year-Old Ukino Nushang was a first-year student of Jahangirnagar University.
Md Mohiuddin, caretaker of Cox’s Bazar Sadar Hospital, said she was diagnosed with dengue on Friday night. On Saturday, she was referred to Chittagong Medical College Hospital as her condition deteriorated. She died on the way.
No other case of dengue infection was reported in the district, added Mohiuddin.
In Chandpur, 18 people have been infected with dengue. Of them, five people were hospitalised on Saturday, said Medical Officer Nazmul Hossain.
– GreenWatch News Desk with UNB.