1,000 people diagnosed in one day: Worst-ever dengue fever outbreak hits Bangladesh
1,000 people, mostly children, have been diagnosed with dengue fever in the past 24 hours in a historic outbreak in Bangladesh.
Official figures state that eight people have died as a result of infection since January, though local media puts the death toll as high as 35, while around 13,000 patients have been diagnosed with the disease so far this year. There have been 8,343 cases in July alone.
The figure is a massive increase from 1,820 in June and 184 in May. The capital, Dhaka, home to over 20 million people, has been the most affected district in the country. Hospitals are overflowing and social media is filled with pleas for blood donors.
“This number is the highest since we started keeping record on dengue patients nearly two decades ago,” senior Health Ministry official Ayesha Akter said.
The mosquito-borne viral infection causes flu-like symptoms including high fever, muscle and joint pain, piercing headaches, and full-body rashes. If left untreated, it can develop into a deadly hemorrhagic fever, and there is no vaccine or specific medicine for treating the disease at present.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that of the millions infected with dengue worldwide each year, 12,500 die, while a further 500,000 require hospitalization. The Bangladeshi Disease Control Division has officially requested help from the WHO to cull and control the country’s mosquito population in an effort to stem the rising tide of infection.
The Philippines is also grappling with a major dengue fever outbreak after a recent spike in cases of 85 percent year-on-year.
There are growing concerns that an increase in global average temperatures due to climate change could allow the female aedes aegypti mosquito which carries the dengue virus to migrate out of southeast Asia and into countries like the US, inland Australia and coastal regions of Japan and China.