Doctors and hospital staffers are at a higher risk of being infected with dengue while treating patients and also due to Aedes mosquito breeding grounds in and around hospitals, healthcare professionals said.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said that 480 doctors and healthcare workers were infected with dengue this year till yesterday.
Of them, at least five died from the disease. A DGHS analysis has so far confirmed 52 deaths from dengue, and these five were among them.
“The risk of being infected with dengue remains high if there are Aedes mosquitoes in hospitals,” said Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.
“If 66,000 people have been infected with dengue then doctors or nurses can also be infected.”
If it is possible to keep dengue patients under mosquito nets, it will be safer for doctors, nurses and others at the hospital, she added.
Possible mosquito breeding sources such as discarded coconut shells, water bottles, plastic coffee mugs and other plastic containers, are still found in and around major hospitals like Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, Mitford Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), these correspondents found yesterday.
Besides, many patients were not found under mosquito nets at the dengue wards in Mitford Hospital, DMCH, and Mugda Medical Hospital College. This is increasing the risk of dengue for doctors and other hospital workers.
At Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital, most of the patients were using mosquito nets.
Several doctors said that physicians and healthcare workers need to stay near the patients round the clock, and dengue is spread through an Aedes mosquito’s bite after it takes the blood of a person infected with the virus.
BREEDING GROUNDS AT HOSPITALS
The outdoor garden and other areas on the premises of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital were found littered with coconut shells, used water bottles and plastic coffee mugs, which are all possible breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes.
Similar scenes were seen at the open space adjacent to the radiology and imaging department and inside the parks beside the main entrance to the hospital.
In many instances, attendants of patients were seen littering the open spaces with used water bottles and coconut shells.
“We have kept dustbins at every nook and corner of the hospital. But many people still litter here and there. Our cleaners usually clean these open spaces twice a day, but we have a shortage of manpower. Still, we are trying our best,” the hospital’s Director Uttam Kumar Barua told The Daily Star.
He said 13 nurses and 12 doctors of his hospital were suffering from dengue. But it was difficult to say how or where they got infected.
“It could have happened at the hospital, their home or elsewhere.”
At Mitford hospital, some plastic containers and coconut shell were found in the gardens near the hospital’s old building. Six nurses of the hospital were infected with dengue.
Senior nurse Sharmin Akhtar said she was admitted to BIRDEM hospital on August 16 with dengue and returned home on August 21.
“I don’t know where I was infected as there is a possibility to be infected anywhere,” said Sharmin.
At DMCH, small plastic containers and coconut shells were found near the emergency gate and in the garden near the boundary. DGHS data showed that 63 doctors, nurses and other hospital staffers were infected with dengue.
A DGHS study conducted from July 31 to August 4 after on 14 places in the capital, including Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Mugda Medical College Hospital, found that both hospitals were ideal breeding grounds for Aedes.
Authorities said that the situations in the Mugda Medical College Hospital and the DMCH had somewhat improved. However, authorities were struggling to keep the hospitals clean due to the lack of awareness of attendants.
Dr Nasir Uddin, assistant director of DMCH, said they have deployed 40 additional cleaners after Eid-ul-Azha and now the situation was better than before.
He said some visitors still litter here and there though they have kept 1,000 waste bins in different areas of the hospital.
Asked about why no mosquito nets were being used for dengue patients, he said in some areas it was not possible due to lack of space.
“Some patients do have mosquito nets with their beds but refuse to use them even after we advise them to do so,” he said.
Hospital staff at Mitford Hospital and Mugda Medical College Hospital also said that patients were reluctant to use mosquito nets even though the facility is being provided.
A recent visit to Mugda Medical College Hospital showed that its current state in terms of cleanliness had improved. But stagnant water was found on the roof of a one-storey room near the prayer room of the hospital, where mosquitoes can breed.
A record 64,765 dengue-infected people went to hospitals this year till yesterday, according to the DGHS.
The number is more than six times that of last year. The total number of infected people are likely to be even higher, as many cases go unreported.
At least 5,562 people are currently admitted to different hospitals across the country.
In 24 hours since 8:00am yesterday, at least 1,251 new patients -- 577 in Dhaka and the rest outside -- had been admitted to different hospitals, according to the DGHS.
Meanwhile Dadan Laskar, a college student of Shamsur Rahman College in Shariatpur’s Gosairhat upazila, died on Sunday after being infected with dengue.
Mirazul Islam, a friend of the victim, said, “Dadan was diagnosed with dengue at Gosairhat Upazila Health Complex on August 23. The on-duty doctor referred Dadan to Shariatpur General Hospital around 5:30pm, but he died on the way to the hospital around 7:30pm.”
(Our Faridpur Correspondent contributed to the report.)