Bangladesh sees record number of dengue deaths for second consecutive year

Ahammad Foyez
Bangladesh sees record number of dengue deaths for second consecutive year Patients with dengue lie in the corridors of Dhaka Medical College Hospital as all the beds are full amid a huge increase in infections, Dhaka, Aug. 1, 2023.
Asif Mahmud Ovi/BenarNews

Bangladesh is facing an unprecedented outbreak of dengue fever with the death toll reaching a record high of 293 since Jan. 1, and thousands of people with the mosquito-borne infection filling up hospitals.

Experts in the South Asian country said that the nature of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which primarily transmits the virus, had changed, leading to higher infections in the past few years.

In Bangladesh, dengue infections began with the rainy season about five months ago and by Thursday, the virus had killed 283 people, shattering last year’s record of 281. 

This year, more than 33,000 infected people have been hospitalized in Dhaka, and more than 28,000 outside of the capital city. Ten people died on Friday.

Achia Begum, the mother of a 3-year-old boy infected with dengue, said she was desperate to get him admitted into a hospital, but all public hospitals were full of dengue patients.

“Doctors of the government hospital denied us as there were no spaces in the hospital. To save my son’s life we are now trying to get a bed in this private hospital,” Achia told BenarNews as she waited to hear from the private Islami Bank Hospital.

Federal and city government officials said they were doing all they could to control infections and provide health services. 

Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam said they were conducting drives in parts of the city to ensure mosquitoes were not breeding in any areas.

“We are conducting drives and imposing fines if we see the presence of Aedes larvae,” Islam told reporters on Thursday, adding that those penalized were homeowners and neighborhood associations.

“These drives will be conducted throughout the year,” he said.

Dengue fever does not have a specific treatment, and those infected are usually given anti-fever and pain medication, according to the World Health Organization. 

It is important to get tested quickly for dengue, said Rashid-e-Mahbub, president of the Bangladesh NGO Health Rights Movement.

“People should rush to hospital immediately after suffering from a fever as the fever is turning serious very quickly this year,” he told BenarNews.

A dengue test takes two to three days before a reliable result is available.  

In Bangladesh, most of the patients died of dengue within a short period of being hospitalized, with the average hospital stay being 2.61 days, said Md. Shahadat Hossain, a management information system director at the Directorate General of Health Services.

What’s making matters worse in Bangladesh is that the dengue-carrying mosquito appears to have changed its breeding and biting patterns, which have increased their number and the frequency of their bites, one vector management expert said.

“It now breeds both in unclean and fresh water while previously, it could breed only in fresh water,” Kabirul Bashar, a zoology professor and vector management expert at Jahangirnagar University, told BenarNews.


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