Dhaka, dirt, disgust and dengue -Moinul Alam
Bangladesh has been witnessing the deadliest dengue outbreak since its inception back in 1999. The first case was detected in 1960 when it was called ‘Dacca Fever’. The fever is also known as break bone fever due to the extreme pain experienced by patients. This viral disease is spread by a mosquito called ‘Aedes’. Aedes mosquito gets infected after biting someone already infected. Then, the mosquito spreads the disease by biting others. This mosquito breeds in stagnant clear water. Therefore, each of our home is a breeding place for this infection carrier as there are many ways for water to become stagnant at our home particularly from the drainage of air conditioners and freezers.
The virus has also changed its pattern. Earlier, the fever used to outbreak during the monsoon i.e. from the month of July and ended within November. But over the last few years dengue patients are being identified throughout the year even in the months of December and January during the winter which is not at all the breeding time for Aedes mosquito.
The fever has changed its fever alarmingly this year. Most of the deaths resulted from dengue shock syndrome. Patients enter this fatal phase within two to three days after being diagnosed. Therefore, most of the deceased did not have much time to allow the doctors to take counter measures.
This year, number of child dengue patients have increased than any time before. Hospitals have to dedicate separate wards for treating children. Nearly 12 per cent of deaths are children this year. They have been proved to be prone to dengue shock syndrome. Child fatalities have become distressingly common this year with 102 children aged between 1-15 years died since the last week of September. Number of infected patients and deaths is likely to be few times more as many have received treatment at home without getting admitted to the hospital.
As usual the most of the deaths and infected patients are residents of the capital city. However, towards the end of the year patients began to come to the capital city for better treatment indicating a sharp rise of dengue patients across Bangladesh. The two city corporations of Dhaka did not take any noticeable measures to combat the fever other than traditional spraying and fogging which is not at all effective for destroying the larvae. Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) for the first time had recourse to the use of bacteria to control the breeding of Aedes mosquito. The DNCC has used Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) bacteria in August. DNCC claimed that it is a naturally occurring bacteria and it does not cause any harm to the environment like usual pesticides. It is necessary to carry out survey and conduct research over the effectiveness of this bacteria. The result is likely to take time as density of Aedes population has to be measured throughout the year.
Dengue has been spreading worldwide. It is not too far for this disease to trigger another global health emergency like Covid-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned earlier that Dengue will be a potential threat across the southern part of the United States and Europe as well as many countries in Africa. Due to climate change, summer has been prolonged in many parts of the United States, Europe and Africa. As a result, rainfall has also been prolonged and the optimum breeding condition for Aedes mosquito remained.
In order to prevent Dengue virus from spreading we have to stop the breeding of Aedes mosquito. Therefore, we need to clean our surrounding. We should change water in every three days at places where water accumulates particularly from flower vases, air conditioners and refrigerators. Moreover, we have to take special care of our children during the peak time by wearing them full sleeve clothing and using mosquito repellents.
Every one of us owes a duty of care to keep our environment clean. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also stressed on staying clean and referred cleanliness as an inseparable part of our Iman. Therefore, without depending on the authorities, we should put our little efforts to combat the situation. Our little efforts will cumulate into a bigger one at the end the day indeed.