The number of dengue patients admitted to hospitals this year is already around four times higher than that of last year during this time, although the rainy season is still two months away.
Recently collected data from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) shows that as of March 16, 263 patients have already been admitted to hospitals across the country, whereas till March last year, this figure was only 73.
Experts raised the alarm saying the country witnessed the worst ever dengue situation last year and that the authorities should take preventive measures right away to avoid a repeat of such an outbreak.
According to its data, a total 1,01,354 dengue cases were reported last year, of which 49,544 were outside Dhaka. The number of deaths from dengue was 179, said Dr Aysha Akhtar, assistant director of the health emergency operation centre and control room of the DGHS
Jahangirnagar University (JU) entomologist Kabirul Bashar, who, along with a team of researchers, has been conducting surveys on Aedes mosquitoes under a three-year research project, said the density of Aedes mosquito larvae is higher than that of last year around this time.
He said they are seeing a high density of Aedes larvae at various wards of both city corporations -- indicating an alarming picture ahead of the dengue season.
On an average, the Breteau Index is now 10 to 12, whereas it was less than 10 last year around this time, said Kabirul.
The Breteau Index measures the number of positive containers per 100 houses inspected.
The authorities concerned will have to take advance steps right now to destroy breeding sources of Aedes mosquitoes to avert a situation like last year's, he said.
"Mobilising people and involving them in cleaning activities is very important to control the breeding Aedes mosquitoes."
Organisations like the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) will have to ensure their members take necessary steps to destroy all breeding sources at their sites and do not give any scope for mosquitoes to breed, said Kabirul.
City corporations will also have to work against Aedes mosquitoes throughout the year, he added.
Entomologist Dr Manzur Chowdhury, former president of the Geological Society of Bangladesh, concurred that the number of dengue patients this year can be significant if authorities concerned do not take steps to destroy breeding sites right away.
This is the right time to take all necessary measures as the spread of Aedes is still at a lower scale. But it will become tough to control when it spreads further during the rainy season, he warned.
The four-fold increase in the number of hospitalised dengue patients is an ominous sign, added Manzur.
DNCC Panel Mayor Jamal Mostafa said they are taking various measures, such as larviciding, adulticiding, and applying malaria oil-B, as well as cleaning waterbodies to destroy mosquito breeding grounds.
He further said that from March 7 onwards, the DNCC has been monitoring mosquito-control activities by engaging 11 teams in a bid to curb both Culex and Aedes mosquitoes.
The teams have been monitoring mosquito-control activities in every ward and they will submit reports to the authorities concerned in this regard, added Jamal.
DNCC Health Officer Dr Md Emdadul Haque said they have been undertaking mosquito-control activities all year round.
"We also took necessary steps to destroy sources of Aedes mosquitoes after getting DGHS's survey report."
Apart from these, the DNCC is also taking various steps to raise awareness in this regard and holding advocacy meetings in all zones under its jurisdiction, he said.
The DNCC has also issued letters to various government and private organisations, such as REHAB, to take the necessary steps to destroy breeding sources on their premises, added Emdadul.
DSCC Chief Health Officer Brig Gen Sharif Ahmed said they are taking measures throughout the year to control Aedes mosquitoes as well as taking steps to address Culex mosquitoes when they breed between November and March/April.
Sharif said they have been continuing anti-mosquito drives and are trying hard to control the mosquito menace.
Another DSCC official said they conducted a crash programme to destroy Aedes mosquito hotspots following the DGHS survey.
Mayor Sayeed Khokon inaugurated a seven-day programme to begin on March 25 to destroy Aedes mosquito breeding sources identified by DGHS, said this official.
The DSCC also issued letters to various organisations like Rajuk, REHAB, DMP, WASA and BWDB to take necessary steps to destroy mosquito breeding grounds.
REHAB president Alamgir Shamsul Alamin said they have already issued letters to all of their members twice to take necessary steps to clean still or stagnant water and to undertake cleaning activities at their construction sites or project areas.