A danger lurking in the shadows
We share the concern raised by dengue experts about a potential increase in the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes when tens of thousands of people leave Dhaka during the upcoming Eid holiday. Empty houses are ideal breeding grounds as stagnant water can accumulate in many places. Experts, therefore, have suggested some precautionary measures which can help address this threat.
Most of the steps they suggested are simple: clean out all containers and keep them upside down so that water does not accumulate; cover commodes with lids or plastic wrap; clean the house thoroughly, etc. Also, residents should remain generally careful during the rainy season, and use mosquito repellent spray or mosquito nets as an added layer of protection.
One of the major worries ahead of the Eid is local transmission – asymptomatic patients may carry the virus to their destinations. While a person with the dengue virus cannot directly infect another person, mosquitoes become infected when they bite an infected person and can then transmit the virus by biting a healthy one. So people should look out for typical symptoms such as high fever, severe headache and joint pain, get tested, and seek quick medical attention if they test positive. Vehicles that people will take to go to various districts must also be sprayed thoroughly with insecticide before travel. The city corporations should carry out such spraying at all bus terminals.
This brings us back to the failure of the city corporations to take preemptive measures before the dengue outbreak. Experts have frequently pointed to insufficient anti-mosquito campaigns and surveillance efforts which, ideally, should be conducted round the year. With well over 6,000 cases (out of which 1,404 are outside Dhaka) and 40 deaths, we hope that the government will take immediate steps to prevent a widespread outbreak in the districts outside Dhaka as well as within it when people return from vacation. Going forward, the government must vigorously take round-the-year measures to destroy breeding grounds, make insecticides available for the public, and create public awareness to prevent an epidemic in the near future.