Monday August 26, 2019

Dengue Outbreak Breaks Record in Bangladesh, Hospitals Struggle to Find Space for Patients

Dengue is mostly caused by Aedes aegypti mosquito

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Dengue is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito that typically attacks during day time. Pixabay

In one of the worst outbreak of dengue in Bangladesh, over 1,000 people, majority of them children, have been diagnosed with the disease in the last 24 hours, according to officials on Tuesday. While over 50 districts across the country had been affected, Dhaka, the national capital, home to more than 20 million people, was the worst-hit city with hospitals struggling to find space for patients, reports said.

Dengue is mostly caused by Aedes aegypti mosquito. “Aedes albopictus mosquito can also cause dengue,” Dr ASM Alamgir, a senior scientist at the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told bdnews24.com. “This type of mosquito is common in districts outside Dhaka as well,” he said.

“If the mosquito bites a dengue patient in Dhaka and travels out, the disease can spread to those areas,” he said. Former IEDCR Director Mahmudur Rahman called the situation “a cause for concern”. Eight people have died since January and more than 13,600 patients have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne fever in 2019. Of this, 8,348 cases have been reported in July. In June 1,820 cases had been reported and 184 cases in May, according to official figures.

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Eight people have died since January and more than 13,600 patients have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne fever in 2019. Pixabay

Ayesha Akhter, Assistant Director at the Directorate General of Health Services, called it “the worst dengue outbreak we have seen in Bangladesh”. “We are making sure that all government and private hospitals are equipped to tackle the outbreak. A special section has been opened at Dhaka Medical College Hospital for dengue patients,” said Akhter.

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The Disease Control Division has sought technical assistance from the WHO to control mosquito population to help curb the spread of the diseases. The Health Ministry has developed national treatment guidelines and aims to raise awareness through advertisement in newspapers.

Several Asian countries are grappling with spread of mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue and malaria with the latter raising fears of a “potential global health emergency”. Multi-drug-resistant strains of malaria is spreading across Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, according to two studies published in the Lancet. (IANS)

Next Story

Philippines Bans World’s First Dengue Vaccine

Manila banned the sale, import and distribution of the Dengvaxia vaccine in February following the deaths

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FILE - Parents of children injected with Dengvaxia vaccine carry pictures of their loved ones as they attend a senate hearing regarding the vaccine at the Senate building in Manila, Philippines, Feb. 21, 2018. VOA

The Philippines stood firm Tuesday on its ban on the world’s first dengue vaccine while declaring a nationwide epidemic from the mosquito-borne disease that it said has killed hundreds this year.

Dengue incidence shot up 98% from a year earlier to 146,062 cases from January 1 to July 20, causing 662 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference in which he announced a “national dengue epidemic.”

Manila banned the sale, import and distribution of the Dengvaxia vaccine in February following the deaths of several dozen children who were among more than 700,000 people given shots in 2016 and 2017 in a government immunization campaign.

Duque said Thursday the government is studying an appeal to allow French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi to put the vaccine back in the Philippine market, but ruled out using the drug to combat the ongoing epidemic, which has hit small children hard.

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The Philippines stood firm Tuesday on its ban on the world’s first dengue vaccine while declaring a nationwide epidemic from the mosquito-borne disease. Pixabay

“This vaccine does not squarely address the most vulnerable group which is the 5-9 years of age,” Duque said.

The vaccine, now licensed in 20 countries according to the World Health Organization, is approved for use for those aged nine and older.

Duque said the United Nations agency also advised Manila that the vaccine was “not recommended” as a response to an outbreak, and it was anyway “not cost-effective” with one dose costing a thousand pesos (about $20).

Dengue, or hemorrhagic fever, is the world’s most common mosquito-borne virus and infects an estimated 390 million people in more than 120 countries each year — killing more than 25,000 of them, according to the WHO.

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The Philippines in 2016 became the first nation to use Dengvaxia in a mass immunization program.

But controversy arose after Sanofi disclosed a year later that it could worsen symptoms for people not previously infected by the dengue virus.

The disclosure sparked a nationwide panic, with some parents alleging the vaccine killed their children.

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Dengue incidence shot up 98% from a year earlier to 146,062 cases from January 1 to July 20, causing 662 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference. Pixabay

The controversy also triggered a vaccine scare that the government said was a factor behind measles outbreaks that the UN Children’s Fund said have killed more than 200 people this year.

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Duque on Tuesday called on other government agencies, schools, offices and communities get out of offices, homes and schools every afternoon to take part in efforts to “search and destroy mosquito breeding sites”. (VOA)