Dengue fever continues to wreak havoc across the country as 820 fresh patients were hospitalised in the last 24 hours till Saturday morning, the highest in a single day this year.
Amid an alarming rise in daily cases and deaths, health experts have warned that traditional symptoms of dengue infection have changed, making it more unpredictable and riskier to deal with.
Due to the change in symptoms, many patients are failing to recognise the viral disease at an early stage and go to hospitals late in critical conditions. Because of the last-minute hospitalisation, many patients are going into shock.
High fever, severe body aches, headache, pain behind the eyes, and body rash are common symptoms of dengue fever. However, this year, patients are being admitted to hospitals with symptoms other than these. These extra symptoms are more common in patients with second or third-time dengue infection.
Experts urged people to consult a doctor in case of any physical illness. Besides, they think that mosquito killing and personal precautions are important to deal with dengue.
Noted medicine specialist and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's personal physician Professor ABM Abdullah told The Business Standard, "This time the patient's condition is becoming critical within two to three days of low fever, cold and headache. Many become unconscious with a weak pulse and blood pressure. This is a modified form of dengue. These issues are making me a little concerned as patients do not realise that the normal symptoms have changed and they are going to the hospital late."
"If there is fever, cold, cough, or pain, no other painkiller except paracetamol can be taken. Do not take any antibiotics without a physician's advice. If the dengue test is positive, around 90% of patients will be able to continue treatment at home as per the physician's advice," he said.
"But if you vomit, cannot eat, or your blood pressure drops, you have to go to the hospital. People with diabetes, heart disease or any other comorbidities, elderly people, children and pregnant women should go to the hospital if they are dengue positive," ABM Abdullah added.
A total of 67 people have died so far from dengue this year. Of them 20 died in eight days of July, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
A total of 2,502 dengue patients, including 1,773 in Dhaka, are now receiving treatment at hospitals across the country.
So far, the DGHS has recorded 12,111 dengue cases and 9,549 recoveries.
The highest number of dengue patients have been admitted to Mugda Medical College and Hospital in the capital this year.
Dr Niatuzzaman, acting director of the hospital, told The Business Standard, this year dengue patients are coming with various symptoms, including diarrhoea, low fever or no fever, vomiting, inflammation of the brain, fluid accumulation in the chest and stomach, and unbearable stomach pain. People who are catching dengue for the second or third time are showing these symptoms.
"We are also getting many patients with multi-organ dysfunction syndrome. Such patients have to be sent directly to the intensive care unit (ICU)," he added.
Dr MH Choudhury Lelin, public health expert and chairman of Health and Hope Hospital, told TBS, "As the type of Aedes mosquito is changing, we are also seeing changes in dengue symptoms. Most of those who get dengue this time are second or third-time patients. Their complications such as acute symptoms are also different."
"Earlier patients used to come with a 103-104°F fever. Now we are seeing patients with severe loose motion, vomiting, and stomach pain. Proper medical research is needed to understand the change in dengue symptoms," Dr Lelin added.
Child patients suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea
Many child dengue patients are going to hospitals with loose motion and vomiting, said Dr Tania Islam, assistant professor of paediatrics at the Institute of Child and Mother Health, Matuail.
Advising parents to be extra careful, she said the surroundings of the house should be kept clean. Children should be put to sleep in a mosquito net. Anti-mosquito creams can be applied to children.
"If a child has a fever, parents should consult a doctor instead of buying medicine from the local pharmacy. If dengue is detected in early diagnosis, then the management is easy and the risk of deterioration of the child's condition can be reduced," Dr Tania Islam added.
Mosquito control needs to be stepped up: DGHS
Dr Nazmul Islam, director of Disease Control at the DGHS, told TBS, "The spike in dengue cases is not a good sign. To reduce the number of patients, mosquitoes must be killed and arrangements must be made to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs near households. The local government and city corporations will do that. The action of killing mosquitoes must be accelerated or else the disease will continue to spread."
"No matter what the symptoms are, if you [patient] suspect something, you should go to the hospital and see a doctor. The risk of death increases as patients arrive at hospitals late," he said.
Dhaka North and South launch anti-mosquito drives
Dhaka North and South city corporations are carrying out special campaigns and drives to combat dengue in the capital.
Dhaka North started a month-long special mosquito control programme on Saturday.
On the first day of Dhaka North's month-long special mosquito eradication campaign, a total fine of Tk14,85,000 was collected in 17 cases filed due to Aedes mosquito larvae being found in various establishments in 10 zones.
Ctg city using drones to find mosquito nesting
Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) is using drones to detect the breeding ground or nesting of Aedes mosquitoes in the port city.
According to CCC, there are 2,06,975 holdings in about 220 residential areas in 41 wards of the city.
The malaria and mosquito control wing of the city corporation has identified 433 mosquito breeding grounds in the city. Anti-mosquito drugs are being sprayed in these hotspots.
Drones were first used to locate mosquito breeding grounds by Dhaka North last year. Following last year's success, Dhaka North again started the drone survey on 2 July.
Chief Cleaning Officer (Acting) of CCC Muhammad Abul Hashem told The Business Standard, "Many buildings have roofs attached to one another. Examining all households and establishments on foot is very challenging. So, this time monitoring will be done with the help of drones. Hopefully, the survey can be completed in 60 important residential areas within a month."