As authorities concerned have failed to take any visible effective measure so far to control Aedes mosquito outside Dhaka, there is a huge risk of dengue outbreak this year.
Experts suggested to take immediate steps to control Aedes mosquito population so that the nation doesn’t face another catastrophe this year.
According to Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), a total of 101,354 dengue cases were reported last year, of which 49,544 were outside Dhaka. The number of deaths was 156.
Entomologist Dr Manzur Chowdhury, former president of Geological Society of Bangladesh, said as there was early rain this year, a survey should be carried out within a few days in areas where there were significant number of dengue patients last year.
“It is important to pay more attention to rural areas as healthcare facilities are inadequate there,” he said.
Prof Kabirul Bashar, an entomologist of Jahangirnagar University said Aedes albopictus being a vector in rural areas is a serious concern, considering its management method is different.
Local administration, under the leadership of deputy commissioners, will have to be proactive, and they will need necessary training, he said.
“As presence of dengue virus as well as Aedes mosquito was detected outside Dhaka, there remains a huge risk of dengue [outbreak],” said Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research (IEDCR).
She said if breeding source control activities are not undertaken properly, the risk will remain high. Health and local government ministries have been working on the issue, she added.
“We have held a meeting with mayors of different Pourasava outside Dhaka and urged them to strengthen mosquito control activities in their areas,” she said, adding that mayors are aware of the risk but it is challenging for them as they did not carry out these activities on a large scale earlier.
“We have been working on an integrated vector management guideline and its first draft has already been prepared,” she further added.
Additional Secretary of Local Government Division Sohrab Hossain said they will hold follow-up meeting on Integrated Vector Management (IVM) plan this month.
Sohrab said they are instructing district and upazila level administrations to carry out anti-mosquito drives and cleaning activities round the year.
Kabir Mahmood, deputy commissioner of Pabna, said they held many awareness programmes last year for mosquito control.
“We are preparing to start an awareness campaign shortly. We are also publishing advertisement in different media outlets,” said Kabir.
AKM Mahbubur Rahman, mayor of Bogura, said they will take different mosquito control measures starting early this year.
“We will start awareness programme as well as anti-mosquito drive shortly. Garbage management will also be carried out,” he said.
A survey by IEDCR recently found the presence of Aedes albopictus outside Dhaka.
Aedes albopictus, also called Asian tiger mosquito, is a small, dark mosquito with a white dorsal stripe and banded legs. It can act as a vector for dengue virus. It lays eggs on the inner sides of water-holding containers in urban, suburban, and rural areas as well as at edges of forest areas. Larvae can also be found in natural habitats such as tree holes and hollow bamboo stumps.
Aedes aegypti is a vector for dengue, chikungunya, Zika fever and yellow fever etc. The mosquito can be recognised by white markings on its legs and a marking on the upper surface of its thorax.
Prof Flora said “We have to focus on destroying the breeding sources [of mosquitoes] in a sustainable manner.”
Completed in November last year, the survey was carried out in Barishal, Meherpur and Kushtia. According to a final survey report, in Gangni of Meherpur there were 44.5 percent Aedes albopictus and one percent aegypti.
In Kustia’s Chatarpara there was 65 percent albopictus, with no presence of Aedes aegypti; while in Barishal, one percent was albopictus and there was no aegypti.
Usually, Aedes aegypti is responsible for spreading dengue in urban areas and albopictus for spreading dengue outside the cities, experts said.
It is not a one-off issue and Aedes is now endemic to our country -- for which, yearlong efforts will have to be undertaken, said Prof Flora.