Rising temperatures, longer monsoon drive Bangladesh’s worst dengue outbreak

By Ruma Paul and Sam Jahan

DHAKA (Reuters) – Rising temperatures and an extended monsoon in Bangladesh due to local weather change are offering preferrred breeding circumstances for the dengue-spreading mosquito, consultants mentioned, because the nation grapples with its worst-ever outbreak of the viral illness.

The loss of life toll from Bangladesh’s outbreak in 2023 is 1,476 as of Nov. 12, with 291,832 contaminated, official knowledge confirmed. Hospitals have struggled to deal with the rising variety of sufferers within the densely populated South Asian nation.

The loss of life toll this 12 months was greater than 5 instances that of 2022, when Bangladesh recorded 281 dengue-related deaths, and the deadliest since authorities began monitoring them in 2000.

Kabirul Bashar, an entomologist and zoology professor at Jahangirnagar College in Bangladesh, has spent a lot of his profession finding out mosquitoes and mentioned he had by no means seen such a extreme outbreak in his 25 years of analysis.

“Temperature, rainfall and different elements are altering patterns attributable to local weather change. We’re seeing monsoon-like rain in mid-October, which is uncommon,” he advised Reuters. “These seasonal sample modifications are creating the best state of affairs for breeding of Aedes mosquito. Aedes is adapting to those modifications.”

Dengue is frequent in South Asia throughout the June-to-September monsoon season because the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the illness, thrives in stagnant water.

This kind of mosquito usually breeds in clear water and feeds throughout the day, passing alongside the illness, also referred to as “breakbone fever” for the extreme muscle and joint pains it causes.

“After three years of experiments, we lastly got here to a conclusion that Aedes bites all via the day,” mentioned Bashar, the one scientific knowledgeable on the nation’s nationwide anti-dengue committee. “Additionally, it could efficiently reproduce, even in soiled sewers and in saline seawater, (to) full its life cycle.”

This was the primary 12 months that dengue instances have been reported in all 64 districts of the nation, whose complete inhabitants is about 170 million.

Bashar mentioned vector surveillance – a detailed examination of how the illness is spreading – was now wanted year-round in Bangladesh.

Most individuals who get dengue don’t have signs, so the variety of instances could also be far increased than the reported numbers.

“This 12 months now we have seen totally different signs for dengue fever,” doctor Janesar Rahat Faysal advised Reuters. “Some sufferers who got here with solely coughing signs had been identified with dengue. That is alarming.”

There isn’t a vaccine or drug that particularly treats dengue, however early detection and correct medical care can cut back deaths to fewer than 1% of these contaminated, consultants have mentioned.

Hospitals in Bangladesh have been overflowing with sufferers whereas coping with a scarcity of intravenous fluids, essential for treating extreme instances.

“I needed to cope with two dengue sufferers, my sister and my niece. I did not discover correct beds for them within the hospital. So, I needed to deal with them at dwelling,” mentioned Sirazus Salekin Chowdhury, who lives within the capital, Dhaka. “I used to be struggling to seek out intravenous saline.”

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Modifying by Sudipto Ganguly and Gerry Doyle)

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