Bangladesh Dangue Outbreak: Bangladesh is currently reeling under the worst ever dengue outbreak since the first dengue cases appeared in 2000 in the country. The outbreak which started in April-May this year with the onset of monsoon has by the first week of October led to more than 1000 dead and around 220,822 cases reported so far according to Directorate of General Health Services (DGHS) of Bangladesh.
Although dengue is a Aedes mosquito-borne tropical disease and has become a common seasonal viral in the South Asian region during the monsoon season, the outbreak in Bangladesh this year is attributed to El Nino and climate change.
According to meteorological departments of various South Asian countries, the entire region witnessed an unprecedented pattern of monsoon rain this season. These were either very heavy with a large amount of rain falling in a short span or there was a long dry spell. WHO too has attributed the current dengue outbreak to climate change, and the “pattern needs to be watched”, say scientists.
Like previous years, the outbreak started in summer (April-May), spread and surged nationwide in the monsoons (July-August).On 3 August, the number of deaths surpassed previous years; and on 21 August, the tally of hospitalization surpassed the previous highest record of the 2019 outbreak.
Dhaka Is the worst-hit area and the epicenter of the outbreak, with more than half of the cases being reported in the capital city. On 25 July, hospitalizations were reported in all districts; and the tally of hospitalizations outside Dhaka city surpassed the figure of the capital on 14 August.
In June 2023, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) reported that people are getting affected with the DENV-2 and DENV-3 variants this season, the two with the highest rates of infections and death. In 2022 and 2021, DENV-4 and DENV-3 were found for the first time, respectively. Although a patient does develop immunity to a certain variant after being infected with it, cross-infection with different variants raises the chance of complications and mortality. Secondary infections show changed symptoms, thus delayed hospitalizations are causing more deaths. It’s notable that the death rate has more or less increased in Bangladesh in past years.
The country’s health care system is straining under the influx of sick people, and local media have reported hospitals are facing a shortage of beds and staff to care for patients. There were almost 10,000 hospitalizations on August 12 alone, according to WHO.