Bangladesh is grappling with its most severe dengue outbreak to date, with the death toll surpassing 1,000. This outbreak is exacerbated by the effects of climate change.
Dengue, a disease typically found in tropical regions, manifests with symptoms such as high fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain. In severe cases, it can lead to fatal bleeding.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued warnings about the rapid spread of dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases like chikungunya, yellow fever, and Zika due to climate change.
The Directorate General of Health Services in Bangladesh reported on Sunday that the death toll had reached 1,006, with over 20,000 confirmed cases. This year’s death toll exceeds the cumulative total for every previous year since 2000, according to Be-Nazir Ahmed, the agency’s former director.
“It’s a massive health event, both in Bangladesh and globally,” Ahmed stated.
The previous record for the highest annual death toll was in 2022, with 281 deaths for the entire year.
Scientists attribute the surge in dengue cases to irregular rainfall and higher temperatures during the annual monsoon season this year. Kabirul Bashar, a zoology professor at Jahangirnagar University in Dhaka, noted that the Aedes mosquito, which transmits dengue, thrives at temperatures optimal for the virus’s replication. He added that global climate change contributes to maintaining these temperature conditions.
Dengue has been present in Bangladesh since the 1960s, with the first outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever documented in 2000. Dengue has now become endemic in the country, leading to progressively more severe outbreaks since the early 2000s. Cases typically surge between July and September during the monsoon season.
Dr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, a physician at Dhaka’s Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, emphasized that when individuals contract dengue multiple times, the severity increases, resulting in higher mortality rates. Many patients seek medical attention when their condition has already advanced, making treatment more challenging.