The deadly dengue disease may get worse this year as a new serotype of the virus has been found in the country.
Health experts have advised that the necessary preventive measures be maintained in order to eradicate the Aedes mosquito, the vector of the dengue outbreak.
"The dengue situation will depend on vector control. If the Aedes mosquito is destroyed, the dengue will remain under control, otherwise, it may take a serious turn at any time, especially in the rainy season," Prof Dr Tahmina Shirin, director of IEDCR, told the Daily Sun.
Though the country’s dengue situation has remained under control for the last two consecutive years, it may take a serious turn at any time, she said.
"People have to remain alert and keep their homes and surroundings clean. At the same time, if anyone suffers from any symptom of dengue-like fever, they should consult a doctor immediately," Tahmina Shirin added.
She added that it is not acceptable to state that the number of dengue infections remained comparatively lower in 2021 as there might be a number of patients with no symptoms or with mild fever
According to a report by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), as many as 28,429 dengue patients were hospitalised and 105 died in 2021.
A total of 1,405 dengue patients were hospitalised and seven died in 2020, while over 100,000 dengue patients were admitted to hospital and around 179 people died of the mosquito-borne disease in 2019.
The number of dengue patients has increased in the last month compared to the previous month, and the daily number of dengue cases has kept rising for the last few days.
The DGHS data said in the current year, 219 dengue patients were hospitalised in June, 163 in May, 23 in April, 20 in March, 20 in February, and 126 in January.
"If dengue infection occurs with the same serotype, it won’t be severe. The antibody of a specific serotype of the dengue virus has already been grown in many people in the country," Tahmina Shirin said, adding that if any person is infected with the new serotype, symptoms may be severe.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Principal Scientific Officer of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Dr ASM Alamgir said, "The dengue may take a serious turn anytime this year as research by
the IEDCR found dengue infection with new serotype Den 4 this year in the country."
"If the dengue infection occurs with a different serotype, it may be severe. Earlier, dengue infection occurred with the Den 3 serotype of the dengue virus, but this year the different serotype, Den 4, is infecting people," he said.
Dr ASM Alamgir cautioned that if the Aedes is not controlled immediately.
"Dengue may increase and take a serious turn at any time this year. So all concerned have to remain alert," he added.
Experts say controlling vectors is the main way to ward off the disease. That’s why all local government units, along with the LGRD, have to carry on vector control programmes nonstop around the country.
Dr Ekramul Haque, Program Manager (malaria & Aedes transmitted disease) of DGHS, said in a pre-monsoon Aedes survey, its larvae were found in a number of places in Dhaka's north and south city areas.
In the survey results, the DGHS also found that multi-storey buildings and under-construction buildings account for over 72 percent of the city’s Aedes mosquito breeding grounds.
"When rain falls intermittently, the dengue outbreak increases. Usually, August to October is the peak season for dengue disease, but the disease may spread at any time this year, Ekramul Haque said.
He stated that the DGHS had already provided training to doctors from both private and public hospitals in the capital, as well as pocket dengue treatment guidelines and dengue disease directives to hospitals across the country.
The DGHS official said they will start a monsoon survey of Aedes mosquitoes in July to detect the hotspot of the dengue disease, which will help them take necessary measures against the dengue vector.
The sources said Dhaka's north and south city corporations are continuing anti-mosquito drives regularly to destroy the dens of the Aedes.
The Dhaka South City Corporation has already started conducting mobile courts in 10 spots of the city corporation area from Wednesday to control the dengue vector, the city corporation sources said.