4 months ago

Dengue, a rising public health concern

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Reports have it that in 24 hours till Sunday (May 28) morning, 67 dengue patients were hospitalised across the country. What is of concern here is that, of those dengue patients, the overwhelming number of the cases (58) were  from the capital city, while the rest 9 were from all over the country.

In this connection, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS)in its Sunday bulletin added that till that day some 209 dengue patients  were undergoing treatment in different hospitals of the country and 180 of them were  in the hospitals of Dhaka. So, it is again the capital city where the reported dengue patients are concentrated.

A good number of reports, articles including leaders on the escalation in the number of dengue  patients have meanwhile  been carried by both the print and the electronic media. But considering that dengue took epidemic proportions last year (2022) when more than 62 thousand dengue patients were hospitalized in the country with the highest number of deaths (281) from the disease in the country's history, there is hardly any room for complacency. The media should play its role by hammering the awareness into the public's consciousness about the serious hazard that dengue and its vector, the Aedes mosquito, pose to public health.

Evidently, the measures so far being adopted to kill the larvae and disinfect the breeding places of the mosquito are not enough.

Obviously, with increasing temperature and humidity and the shifting seasonal patterns attributable  to global warming, the breeding of  Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries the dengue virus, is no longer concentrated in a particular season, the rainy season to be exact.  In fact, the mosquito can breed whenever there is rain or flooding leading to waterlogging. In that case, the preparedness against dengue infection should be all the year round.

Even so, the frequency of dengue cases is observed mostly in the second half of the year.

Alongside raising community  awareness and measures to destroy the breeding grounds of the vector mosquito, the public should also have the basic knowledge about the disease.The symptoms of dengue have similarities with other ailments that cause fever, nausea, body aches, pain in the eye   and a rash. In most cases, the symptoms persist for two to 7 days.

But in five per cent cases, the dengue can be severe causing  shock, internal bleeding and even death. Most vulnerable to this type of dengue are infants and pregnant women. People who have the previous history of getting the disease are at most risk of contracting the severe form of dengue.

There are four types of dengue viruses known as DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4. These are called serotypes as they interact differently with the antibodies in the human blood serum. Each of these viruses can infect a person. Someone infected by DEN-1, for instance, may have long-term  immunity against infection by the same serotype in the future. But that is no guarantee against other serotypes such as DEN-2, 3 or 4. If a person is sequentially infected by dengue, she or he runs the risk of  contracting the severe form of the disease. So, early detection of the severe type of dengue and proper management can markedly reduce the chance of fatality.

However, most dengue cases are of milder type and pose no threat to life. But if there are symptoms of nose bleeding, vomiting, sudden drop in blood pressure (shock), etc., then immediate hospitalization will be  required.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Bangladesh's climatic conditions are becoming more favourable for transmission of dengue and other vector-borne diseases like malaria and chikungunya.

That is exactly the reason why there should be  all-the-year-round  preparedness against dengue hazard.

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