Dengue Menace: Take steps to stop spread outside Dhaka
Though the spread of dengue outside Dhaka started comparatively late, the growing number of cases shows that the situation may soon take a turn for the worse if necessary measures are not taken immediately to curb further spread, said experts and entomologists.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services, 14,831 dengue cases were reported around the country starting from January till 8:00am yesterday. 1,601 of those were outside Dhaka and 13,230 were in Dhaka city.
In 2019, the total number of cases was 1,01,354, of which 49,544 were outside Dhaka -- the highest since 2000, according to DGHS data.
Monzur Chowdhury, entomologist and former president of the Zoological Society of Bangladesh, said the rate of dengue outside Dhaka will continue to rise this year if proper steps are not taken. The dengue infection started in the capital earlier than it did outside Dhaka, for which it is likely to keep increasing there (outside the capital) till mid-October, he added.
"We hope [the number of] dengue [cases] will start coming down within this month in Dhaka, but it does not mean it [the infection] will totally stop [spreading], rather it will remain on a smaller scale… Still, there is scope to control dengue outside Dhaka as the number is still low."
Residents outside Dhaka will have to use mosquito nets and make their children wear full-sleeved clothes and long pants to keep them safe from dengue. They will also have to use mosquito repellents to kill Aedes mosquitoes at least twice a day, he said.
It will not be convenient to conduct anti-mosquito drives throughout whole cities, rather they will have to carry it out in focused areas, he said.
Entomologist Kabirul Bashar said all the areas outside Dhaka where dengue cases are being found will have to be considered hotspots.
"Authorities concerned will have to conduct fogging and larviciding in the areas, including the homes and workplaces of the patients… If they [any hotspots] are in cities, then the city corporation or municipality will have to take measures and if they of the village level, then the upazila parishad or union parishad concerned will have to do it."
Keeping every patient under a mosquito net is also very important, Monzur said.
Saifur Rahman, another entomologist, said effective measures to kill Aedes mosquitoes are lacking in areas outside Dhaka.
Fogging is crucial as without it killing infected mosquitoes is not possible, he said.
He said the mistake done in Dhaka should not be repeated outside Dhaka. "So, wherever cases are found, intense fogging should be done there."
Moreover, he said, the DCC should take special care and conduct fogging operations in and around major bus stands like Gabtoli, Sayedabad and Mohakhali to stop the movement of infected mosquitoes in public transports from Dhaka.
"Owners and the authorities concerned will have to spray insect repellents in their transports."
An adult mosquito can survive from 15 days to 61 days and, on average, 21 days. If not killed, it can infect people multiple times, said Saifur.
He said there are many areas where dengue patients are found every other year. "The authorities will have to identify those areas and will have to conduct extensive anti-mosquito drives there."
LGRD Minister Md Tazul Islam said different authorities concerned of the government are doing their jobs to control Aedes mosquitoes even outside Dhaka, but everyone will have to come forward and help, otherwise it will not be possible.
He said most of the patients outside Dhaka contracted the infection while they were in the capital.
He emphasised the need for patients to stay under mosquito nets. "If they don't, the mosquitoes in rural areas will also begin carrying the virus."
Abu Ali Md Sazzad Hossain, deputy commissioner of Pirojpur, said the number of dengue cases in their district is low at the moment and separate committees have been formed up to the union parishad level to monitor the situation and take apt measures in this regard.
He added that regular cleaning activities are going on there and public representatives, including those from different organisations, are also involved. Fogging and other anti-mosquito drives are also being conducted in and around patients' homes.
"There are separate dengue units in hospitals and they provide immediate treatment to the patients."