(FILE) People receive treatment for dengue fever at Mugda Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 09 October 2023. EFE/EPA/MONIRUL ALAM

Bangladesh faces worst-ever dengue outbreak with over 1,500 deaths

Dhaka, Nov 15 (EFE).- Dengue has claimed more than 1,500 lives so far this year in Bangladesh, marking the worst ever outbreak in the country, officials said Wednesday.

At least 24 people died from the viral disease in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths in 2023 to 1,520, according to the directorate general of health services.

This is the second time that Bangladesh has witnessed more than 200 deaths by the disease in a single year, after 281 deaths in 2022.

Experts and health rights activists have accused the authorities of negligence and letting the situation aggravate.

“This is purely a governance issue. Those, who are responsible for controlling the epidemic, show no concern. It would not have gotten this bad if proper action was taken,” entomologist and former president of the Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury, told EFE.

Dengue cases in the region usually start rising in July and come down in October, coinciding with the hot and humid monsoon, which is ideal for mosquitoes.

However, this time, deaths have continued even until November, when temperatures come down, with 172 people dying from the disease in the first two weeks of the month.

Afroza Sultana, an entomologist and professor at Jagannath University, warned of a catastrophic situation next year unless mosquito habitats could be destroyed immediately.

“The case may drop with the winter approaching. But the larva of the Aedes mosquito will remain dormant. Things will turn catastrophic next year again unless their habitats are destroyed,” she told EFE, while also advocating for round the year measures against dengue.

In the past 24 hours, 1,623 people were hospitalized due to the disease, taking the total number of cases this year to 296,665, although the actual number of infections is estimated to be much higher.

The number of cases has crossed the 100,000-mark for just the second time since 2019, when 101,354 cases were reported.

Dengue, a mosquito-borne viral infection that causes flu-like illness, is transmitted by female mosquitoes, mainly of the Aedes species.

The symptoms of the potentially deadly disease include headaches, muscle and joint pains, and body rashes.

Climate change, unplanned urbanization, poor water supply management, and human behavior are often blamed for the spread of the dengue virus.

The incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades, with cases increasing from 505,430 in 2000 to 5.2 million in 2019, according to World Health Organization. EFE