Dengue spreads all over

Situation likely to worsen as rural areas have no mosquito control programme

Manzur H Maswood and Rashad Ahamad | Published: 00:14, Aug 09,2019 | Updated: 00:23, Aug 09,2019


People with dengue virus leaving the capital for home to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha may infect innumerable people with the virus around the country.

On Thursday, one person died of dengue in Tangail and for the first time the number of dengue patients hospitalised in rural areas surpassed that in the capital.

In the 24 hours ending at 8:00am on Thursday, at least 2,326 new dengue patients were hospitalised in the country, of whom 1,167 were in districts and 1,159 in the capital.

Since dengue occurred first in Bangladesh in 2000, the infected patients have been mostly in the capital but this year the mosquito-borne viral fever for the first time has spread all over the country.

At least 79 people have so far died of dengue and countless people were infected with the virus in the country, though the official version says that the death toll is 29 and 34,666 patients were hospitalized up to now.

Among the country’s 64 districts, only six – Gazipur, Mymensingh (district), Khagrachhari, Rajshahi (district), Rangpur (district) and Sunamganj – did not witness new dengue patients in the past 24 hours.

Division-wise, at least 808 dengue patients were under treatment at hospitals in Dhaka (excluding the capital), 727 in Chattogram, 573 in Khulna, 470 in Rajshahi, 460 in Barishal, 262 in Rangpur, 228 in Mymensingh and 97 patients in Sylhet on Thursday.

Worries have, meanwhile, intensified that dengue can widely spread as many infected people will visit their village homes on the occasion of the Eid as rural aedes genus mosquitoes are likely to infect people manifold biting the already-infected patients.

Besides, there is no mosquito control programme in the villages and it is also not practical to take urban-like mosquito control measures in the rural settings and this creates the possibility of widespread dengue in the villages during the Eid holidays, experts said.

Aedes aegypti, largely responsible for transmitting dengue and chikungunya viruses, mostly lives in urban habitats.

But, another member of the genus aedes, aedes albopictus, which mostly lives in rural areas, can also transmit the dengue virus, if it gets infected with the virus from biting dengue patients, said Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research’s former chief scientist Mushtaq Husain.

‘Aedes albopictus control is almost impossible because it lives in the greens, woods and in other rural settings where mosquito control is practically impossible,’ he said.

‘Since it is almost impossible to prevent aedes albopictus, dengue can affect the whole country when people carrying the dengue virus will go to their rural homes around the country for Eid and the aedes albopictus bites them,’ he said.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday requested people to undergo dengue diagnosis test before leaving for home if they suspect any symptoms of dengue.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader said at a programme in Dhanmondi that prime minister requested the people to take the dengue test before leaving Dhaka.

‘Upon returning to Dhaka from London, she made the request and I’m urging you on her behalf,’ he said.

Directorate General of Health Services, meanwhile, issued Eid-time precautionary messages for protection from dengue.

As the dengue incidents are growing, the government has already cancelled the leaves of all officials and staff of the health ministry and the local government ministry.

The DGSH, meanwhile, urged all holidaymakers to close the doors and windows of their city houses while leaving for villages, keep the commodes closed/covered, buckets and other toilet containers upside down and to spray mosquito killing medicine at the places, like behind the curtains, where aedes mosquitoes might take shelter.

It also said that people must put naphthalene in the tray where refrigerator water may accumulate.

Moreover, people were urged to clean their entire houses, especially the kitchens and washrooms, before leaving for celebrating the Eid out of Dhaka.

Health Services director general Abul Kalam Azad told New Age that they were concerned over possible spread of dengue during the Eid holidays as people would go to their village homes from the capital and they could carry the dengue virus.

He said that the doctors of all levels including civil surgeons, upazila health officers and community clinics health care providers were directed to keep a watch if anyone was getting infected with dengue.

The hospitals including the private ones were directed to open dengue help desk round the clock, he said.

Dengue test kits, dengue treatment guidelines and other necessary directives were provided to doctors across the country, Azad further said.

Officials concerned said that there was no mosquito control programme in the village and unions.

Several union parishad chairmen told New Age that they could not do anything but only create public awareness against mosquitoes.

They said that none of the country’s 4,554 union parishads has manpower, machine or budgetary allocation for anti-mosquito drive.

‘It is not our mandated responsibility according to the rule,’ said Shahab Uddin, chairman of Ashulia union parishad in Savar, near the capital.

Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum president Mahbubur Rahman said that they were now urging the government to equip the union parishads for controlling mosquitoes.

Mahbubur, also chairman of Shahpara union parishad in Gaibandha, said that none of the union parishads has the capacity to control mosquitoes and dengue has already been spreading to unions.

Several hundred people, mostly workers of different garment factories at Ashulia, have been infected with dengue for the last two months. The apparel workers routinely go to their village home leaving the capital during the Eid.

Officials of the Centre for Woman and Child Health at Ashulia said that on average 20 people were being detected with dengue daily and most of them were garment workers.

They said that seven dengue cases were sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital as the conditions of the patients were critical.

Several hundred dengue patients were admitted to different hospitals and clinics including Savar Upazila Health Complex, Enam Medical College Hospital and Gono Shasthya Kendra Hospital, they said.

According to hospital officials, the intensity of dengue was high in unions near Dhaka like Dhamsona, Pathalia, Yearpur, Aminbazar.

Now these union parishads are creating public awareness among the residents to keep their houses and surroundings clean but can’t take any more prevent measures.

‘We are creating awareness using loud speakers with our own money,’ said Ashulia union parishad chairman Shahab Uddin.

Md Iftikher Ahmed Chowdhury, deputy secretary (Union Council - 1) of the Local Government Division said that municipality was the lowest tire which has the mandate to control mosquitoes.

He said that the division asked the deputy commissioners and upazila nirbahi officers to engage in the mosquito control programme, especially for creating public awareness.

Epidemiologist Manjur A Chowdhury said that aedes albopictus being present in villages could carry the dengue virus.

He advises the villagers to use mosquito net, aerosol and other repellents to stop spread of dengue.

‘If any patient is identified in any village all breeding spots of the area should be destroyed immediately,’ he said.

He, however, said that both adulticide and larvicide could harm the rural ecosystem, adding that massive cleanliness drives could reduce the danger.

The New Age correspondent in Tangail reported that Arif Hossain, 28, of village Khailshindur in Mirzapur upazila, died of dengue at Kumudini Medical College Hospital on Thursday.

He was admitted there with dengue on Sunday and died early Thursday, said hospital director Pradip Kumar Roy.

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