Dhaka: Bangladesh is facing its worst-ever dengue fever outbreak as hospitals are flooded with patients, putting a severe strain on the country's already stretched medical system. The mosquito-borne viral infection has spread across the country with 61 out of 64 districts reporting dengue cases. The government has confirmed 15,369 dengue cases since January 1. Of those, 9,683 patients were diagnosed between July 1 and July 30.
At present, about 4,400 patients, including many children, were undergoing treatment in many hospitals. There have been 14 deaths. Officials from Dhaka, the megacity that is the epicenter of the outbreak, have struggled to contain it, drawing criticism and spreading panic among some residents. Dengue is found in tropical areas around the world and is spread by a type of mosquito that mainly lives in urban areas. The virus causes severe flu-like symptoms and while there is no specific treatment for the illness, medical care to maintain a person's fluid levels is seen as critical.
There are fears that the situation in the countryside will worsen as many residents of the city travel to villages to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha next month. Infected humans can serve as a source of the virus for uninfected mosquitoes. Ayesha Akhter, assistant director at the Directorate General of Health Services, said an outbreak of dengue has accompanied every monsoon since 2000, but this year's situation is the worst. A DGHS study identified a six-fold increase in the Aedes aegypti mosquito population in four months in Dhaka as the primary cause of the larger-than-average outbreak.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization said the dengue situation in Bangladesh was "alarming but not out of control." Other countries in Asia are also facing a surge in dengue cases this year, including Thailand, where 53,699 cases and 65 deaths were reported as of July 23. Nevertheless, with dengue cases soaring in recent weeks, Dhaka hospitals have been running out of room and manpower to treat new patients.