A fresh prevalence of mosquito-borne viral disease Chikungunya in the capital with early rainfalls this year after a break of about five years is worrisome. The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research officials said, as New Age reported on Thursday, that it found 7–10 cases of Chikungunya a week on an average in Dhaka in two weeks. Experts, however, think that many of the Chikungunya cases have not been reported. Hence, one cannot repose full trust in the health minister’s assurance that there is ‘nothing to panic about as there is no possibility of extensive and terrible spread of Chikungunya’ until hospitals are properly equipped with quarantine facilities for giving treatment to a suspected patient, in complete isolation, for preventing the spread of the disease as Chikungunya virus can be transmitted from humans to humans by the bites of infected female Aedes mosquitoes. Chikungunya virus was first diagnosed in Rajshahi in 2008 and thousands of patients infected with the virus were found in Pabna and Dohar of Dhaka in 2011.
Chikungunya, as reported, is characterised by an abrupt onset of high fever accompanied by joint pain. Other common symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash all over the body. The joint pain is debilitating and usually lasts for a few days. But in some cases, this pain may continue for weeks, leaving a devastating impact and causing some acute chronic diseases for the patient, according to Chikungunya fact-sheet of the World Health Organisation. Hence, the operation of isolation wards equipped with quarantine facilities in most of the hospitals including specialised hospitals cannot be dispensed with. It is anybody’s knowledge that when hospitals are crammed with patients afflicted with any serious disease most of the hospitals in the country are found teetering on the brink of an absolute shambles while dealing with such a sudden rush of patients. It is also an unpalatable truth that most of our hospitals are not capable of facing any emergency. To forestall that kind of a situation the government needs to take precautionary measures at most of the hospitals by distributing necessary medicines and other protection equipment for the patients’ treatment. As the outbreak of Chikungunya could be prevented by removing naturally and artificially water-filled containers that support breeding of Aedes mosquitoes, the government should have taken steps to make people aware of this. The best means of prevention, however, is overall mosquito control.
Under the circumstances, it is imperative for the government to hold public awareness programmes of the disease, make the city corporations and other public offices entrusted with the task of controlling mosquito menace redouble their efforts in mosquito control, and equip the hospitals with adequate funds, necessary medicines and quarantine facilities to wage a war against this mosquito-borne disease.
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