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Over 600 dead as worst dengue outbreak on record hits Bangladesh

Patients receive treatment for dengue fever at a hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Aug. 15, 2023. (EPA Photo)

Over 650 people have died as Bangladesh grapple’s with the most severe dengue outbreak on record, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday.

Besides poor hygene, lack of awareness and preventive measures, climate change was also contributing to the spread of such mosquito-borne diseases, according to WHO.

More than 300 deaths from dengue were reported last month alone, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online news conference.

The outbreak is putting huge pressure on the health system,” he said.

While cases were beginning to decline in the capital Dhaka, they were increasing in other parts of the country, he added.

The WHO said it has deployed experts on the ground in Bangladesh, and is supporting authorities to strengthen surveillance, boost laboratory capacity and increase communication with affected communities.

Since the outbreak began in April, more than 135,000 dengue cases and 650 deaths have been recorded in the world’s eighth most populous country, the U.N. agency said.

The WHO has warned that dengue – and other diseases caused by mosquito-borne viruses such as chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika – are spreading faster and further due to climate change.

Dengue is a disease endemic to tropical areas that causes high fevers, headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and, in the most serious cases, bleeding that can lead to death.

The agency’s alert and response director, Abdi Mahamud, told the conference that such outbreaks were a “canary in the coal mine of the climate crisis.”

He said that a combination of factors including climate change and this year’s El Nino warming weather pattern had contributed to severe dengue outbreaks in several areas including in Bangladesh and South America.

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Chad, have also recently reported outbreaks, he added.

Last week Guatemala declared a national health emergency for its own dengue outbreak.
By Agence France-Presse – AFP

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