POST TIME: 11 January, 2019 12:39:26 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 January, 2019 10:03:02 AM
Rotavirus outbreak again

Rotavirus outbreak again

The number of diarrhoea patients, especially infants, affected by rotavirus has increased in recent times across the country. The virus is transmitted through the fecal-oral, and possibly via the respiratory route. According to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), weather changes and severe cold have caused the outbreak.

Visiting the ICDDR,B on Tuesday, this correspondent found that people from different parts of the country were streaming into the hospital with their kids down with diarrhoea. Khurseda Akhter from Narsingdi district was there, along with her sick child Ifran. Talking to The Independent, Khurseda said her child had been suffering from rotavirus-related diarrhoea and fever for the last five days. The doctor examined her son and told her to admit him to the hospital.  

Nishat, six months’ old, was brought to the hospital from Narayanganj three days ago. Her father, Kamrul Ismail, said: “My daughter had diarrhoea and fever for the past 10 days. We came to the hospital last week. Now she is better.”  

According to hospital sources, around 900 to 1,000 patients come to consult doctors daily, and about 65 per cent of them are admitted to the hospital -- 95 per cent of them are children affected by rotavirus, which causes critical dehydration.

According to a report by the Rotavirus Organisation of Technical Allies Council, about 2.4 million children, mostly between three months and two years, are infected with rotavirus each year in Bangladesh. Every year rotavirus, the most common cause of deadly diarrhoea, claims the lives of more than 5,25,000 children globally, and causes hospitalisation of thousands of children. The virus is responsible for nearly 40 per cent of all diarrhoea hospitalisation.

Medical experts say rotavirus is the most fatal of the four viruses and bacteria responsible for diarrhoeal diseases. Patients could die unless immediate treatment was ensured.

WHO recommends a two or three-dose vaccination, depending on the type of the rotavirus vaccine, for six, 10 or 14 weeks to tie in with other routine vaccinations.

Health experts in the country emphasise raising awareness about the rotavirus vaccine among parents to save thousands of lives in the country.

Dr Azharul Islam Khan, in-charge of the diarrhoea unit of the ICDDR,B, told The Independent that a large number of children were suffering from diarrhoea caused by rotavirus this winter.

“We usually prescribe oral rehydration solution (ORS) and some other medicines for diarrhoea. We also provide medicines to patients free of cost,” he added. He said the price of the rotavirus vaccine starts from Tk. 1,600 to 1,700 in local pharmacies. “Poor people cannot afford it,” he added.

“We are able to treat as many as 700 patients a day,” he said.

Contacted, Dr Maksudur Rahman, a child specialist and associate professor of the neonatology department of the Dhaka Shishu Hospital, said: “The virus is common in countries where malnutrition affects a large number of the population and where people live in overcrowded, dirty conditions and have weaker immune systems, particularly children. Instances of the infection are higher in villages.”

Some organisations, including the ICDDR,B and BRAC have been conducting integrated programmes, comprising vaccinations and behaviour-changing strategies, across the country.

If one is infected, doctors suggest that "a suitable amount of oral saline should be given soon after every loose bowel movement. Boiled green banana with skins on should be provided with other regular food, if the child is more than six months old. If the child is younger than six months, breast-feeding should be continued. No antibiotic or medicine should be taken without doctor’s prescription to stop loose bowel movement or vomiting. Patients’ clothes must be kept clean and only clean and pure water must be used.”