Bangladesh dealing with worst dengue fever outbreak on record

Bangladesh dengue ward
(Image credit: Mamunur Rashid / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In Bangladesh, dengue fever has killed more than 300 people this year and infected almost 63,700 others, with hospitals having a difficult time keeping up with all of the cases.

This is the deadliest outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease since the government began tracking in 2000. Across Bangladesh, people are being urged to use mosquito nets and kill any mosquito larvae they find.

The World Health Organization said that today, about half of the world's population is at risk of dengue fever, which is more common in tropical and subtropical climates. The most common symptoms are headache, nausea, body aches, fever, and rash, but not everyone who becomes infected reports symptoms. In severe cases, people can experience organ failure and die. Because there isn't a specific treatment for dengue, the protocol is to manage symptoms.

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Climate change is causing warmer and wetter weather, and these conditions are perfect for mosquito breeding. WHO official Raman Velayudhan said during a webinar last week that dengue is "a problem linked mostly with climate change, and we need to find ways to mitigate its impacts on every country level." After monsoon season is over in October, he expects to see even more dengue cases in Bangladesh and other Asian countries.

Mushtaq Hossain, senior adviser to Bangladesh's Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, agreed, writing in an opinion piece for the Bangladesh Pratidin newspaper that the number of people hospitalized for dengue could keep rising all the way through November. Despite extra beds being put in hospitals, the country is "not adequately prepared to deal with dengue," he said.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.