Dengue is taking a heavy toll on children in the country as hundreds of kids have been infected with the mosquito-borne disease and 26 of them have lost their lives this year.
“Children in our country are vulnerable to dengue for various reasons. They’re infected with the disease through the bite of Aedes mosquito easily and in many cases, they’re taken to hospital late,” Dr Md Nazmul Islam, director (Disease Control) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.
“In this situation, we always advise people of all ages, including children, to undergo both dengue and coronavirus tests to be sure about the disease and take proper treatment as currently Covid-19 and dengue are affecting people at the same time,” Nazmul Islam, also spokesperson for the DGHS, added.
According to the DGHS data available till Wednesday, 14,831 dengue patients have been hospitalised and 57 of them died across the country, including Dhaka, this year.
Of the deceased, 26 or 45.61 percent were children, it said.
Of the total deceased, one was below one year, nine were between 1-5 years, 12 between 6-10 years, three between 11-15 years, one was between 15-18 years and 31 were over 19 years.
The DGHS said 4,475 dengue patients were hospitalised and 11 died in September so far while the tallies were 7,698 and 34 in August and 2,286 and 12 in July respectively this year.
According to the DGHS, 307 new dengue patients were taken to hospitals across the country in the last 24 hours till 8am on Wednesday. Of them, 244 were in Dhaka and 63 outside the city.
Of the fresh 307 dengue patients, 2 percent were aged between 0-1 year, 17.5 percent between 2-10 years, 23.4 percent between 11-20 years, 24.2 percent between 21-30 years, 17.5 percent between 31-40 years, 7.1 percent between 41-50 years, 6.3 percent between 51-60 years and 2 percent between were over 60 years.
A total of 1,092 patients diagnosed with dengue are now receiving treatment at 41 government and private hospitals in Dhaka while 199 outside the city, it said.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said: “Dengue is an old problem in our country. Children are most vulnerable to the disease as their immunity is weak, leading to their death.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection. There is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue. Early detection of disease progression associated with severe dengue, and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates of severe dengue.
The health experts said people with low immunity, elderly, pregnant women and children are at higher risk of getting infected with dengue.
Children are most vulnerable to the disease because their immune systems are weaker than adults and they tend to play in and outside their homes where there is less protection against mosquitoes. Besides, they cannot express their symptoms.
Hundreds of children were hospitalised with dengue across the country, particularly in Dhaka, this year.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Prof Dr Syed Shafi Ahmed Muaz, director of Dhaka Shishu Hospital, said 609 children were admitted to the hospital with dengue and around 10 died of the disease as of Wednesday this year.
“Some 62 children with dengue are now undergoing treatment in our hospital with five of them being in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit),” he added.
Shafi Ahmed said the dengue casualty among children is high for various reasons. “The condition of children infected with dengue deteriorates quickly for lack of proper fluid management, weak immune system and delayed treatment,” he said.
“Fatty children and kids with malnutrition are most vulnerable to dengue,” he said.
About preventive measures to protect children from the dengue infection, the experts have suggested using curtains on doors and windows. “Children should wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks when they go outside and all should use mosquito nets at night and in the daytime,” Dr Nazmul Islam said.
The health experts have also advised people to keep their houses clean and not to allow stagnant water in any pot or other substances for more than three days in a bid to prevent the dengue disease.