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POST TIME: 8 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Health experts ring dengue alarm
Rafiqul Islam Azad

Health experts ring dengue alarm

In the wake of a rise in dengue cases in Dhaka this year, leading health experts have warned that the disease is likely to take an epidemic turn unless preventive measures are taken to contain it. Talking to The Independent yesterday, they said the disease that infected a person after bitten by the Aedes mosquito was likely to continue till the beginning of the winter season. They also advised the people to take preventive measures to stop the mosquitoes from multiplying. They urged the authorities to make special efforts to destroy the mosquitoes. The experts emphasised the need for early diagnosis of the disease and advised people to take patients with fever to doctors at the earliest to avoid unexpected consequences.

Some of them expressed apprehension that the pattern of the disease might have changed and felt it was necessary to examine whether the insecticides used for destroying mosquitoes worked effectively or not.

This year has seen an alarming rise in dengue cases compared to the last several years. Moreover, the season for spread of the disease is likely to continue for two more months.

According to data available with the Health Emergency Operation Control Room set up at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), 11 people have died of dengue and 3,374 were infected as of Thursday.

Among them, 24 persons were admitted to different government and private hospitals on Thursday, said Dr Quamrul Hasan, an on-duty official of the control room that collects information from 22 hospitals.

Experts said the actual number of dengue patients might be higher as many cases were yet to be reported to the control room.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms typically begin three to 14 days after infection, and these may include high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and characteristic skin rashes.

In a few cases, the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue haemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome in which blood

pressure falls to dangerously low levels.

The season for spreading dengue virus mainly starts in June and ends in October as Aedes larvae in households are found in the rainy season than in the winter and summer months.

Prof. Dr Khan Abul Kalam Azad, principal of Dhaka Medical College, said the number of dengue patients had increased because the prevailing weather was not good, preparations were less than earlier years, and awareness among people had dipped.

He expressed concern over the spread of dengue, saying that the disease may spread further if the current rainfall with breaks continued and adequate preventive measures against the disease are not taken.

Dr Khan, who is also the head of the department of medicines of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), said they took different measures to train doctors and set up a separate ward for dengue patients.  

He advised people to drink plenty of water if they were suffering from fevers and consult doctors as early as possible.

Prof. ABM Abdullah, head of medicines department of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), also said the number of dengue patients had increased this year compared to earlier years. “The trend is likely to continue till the winter season,” he added.

He advised people to keep their homes and rooftops clean so that water cannot collect for more than five days and asked the authorities to take effective measures outside houses to stop the spread of mosquitoes.

Dr Md Mahmudur Rahman, consultant (programme for emerging infections) of International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), said they were finding changes in the type of the dengue disease as the number of patients were increasing despite the lesser spread of mosquitoes this year and the patients too showed different symptoms.

He, however, said that this change could be ascertained after carrying out proper investigations on the nature of the disease.

Dr Rahman, who is a former director of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), also emphasised the need to create public awareness and strengthen anti-mosquito drives to control the disease.

The expert also underlined the need to examine whether the insecticides used for destroying mosquitoes worked effectively or not.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Dr Sheikh Salauddin, chief health officer of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), said they took a crash programme to destroy mosquito larvae to control dengue disease.

As part of the programme, DSCC officials have already visited 34,508 homes till yesterday to destroy mosquito larvae. Besides, 57 teams and members of Juba Red Crescent are working in all the 57 wards of the city to control mosquito menace, he added.

The death toll due to dengue disease was very high in the early 2000s when dengue was detected in Bangladesh. As per records, 93 people died of dengue in 2000 and 58 in 2002. Besides, six people died of dengue in 2015, 14 in 2016 and eight in 2017.