Throngs of people with Chikungunya fever symptoms have been queuing up for doctors’ advice in Bangladesh’s top Dhaka Medical College and Hospital in the capital city of Dhaka in recent days.
Such was the overflow, that many of those who suspected they had the fever flocked to a help desk for the viral disease in the hospital.
Almost every day in recent weeks, as with the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, many other government and private hospitals in the capital city have been swamped by hundreds of patients suffering from the Chikungunya viral disease.
The disease is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and causes fever and severe joint pain, while other symptoms can include muscle pain, among others.
Nadia, who was symptomatic of the disease, was initially rushed to a hospital in the southeastern Chandpur district, 115 km away from Dhaka. After five days in the Chandpur hospital, she was eventually sent to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.
“I have been suffering from a fever for about 10 days. I have taken a lot of medication for fevers, pain, coughs and foot ache, but none of them have worked,” she said.
Director of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Brigadier General Md Mizanur Rahman, told Xinhua recently the Chikungunya virus spreads in geometric progression because its a mosquito-borne disease.
“If mosquitoes bite you today, one or two days later someone else in your family will also be infected. We often say that this disease usually does not kill anyone, but if someone has diabetes, kidney or other critical diseases then there are many other risks for those patients,” he said.
“Our suggestion to such patients is that they should seek a doctor advice without delay and get admitted to a hospital.”
There have been no fatalities as a result of the virus so far, he said.
Mohammad Saiful Islam, a medical officer in the Department of Medicine at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said he himself had suffered from Chikungunya.
“I recovered from Chikungunya fever in four days but I’m still feeling pain. I did not take any prescription medicine but took paracetamol and rested for five days.”
“My advice to the patients is that they get ample rest for five to seven days, and not to panic.”
Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora, head of the country’s Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), under the Health Ministry, told Xinhua that, “A total of 2,748 Chikungunya cases have been reported so far to the IEDCR from hospitals and clinics in Dhaka since May.”
A few cases of Chikungunya have also been reported to the IEDCR from several districts in Bangladesh.
The IEDCR chief said the disease virtually swept through areas in Dhaka in June and that the epidemic is continuing.
She said they are currently getting up to 100 calls from Chikungunya patients or their relatives every day through a hotline they opened recently at their office in Dhaka.
“So far we understand the prevailing situation may persist or even worsen until the end of September this year as the Aedes mosquitoes could breed even after the ongoing monsoon,” she said and urged Dhaka residents to ensure that the mosquitoes can’t breed inside their homes.
Bangladesh is considered a high-risk nation with respect to mosquito-borne diseases as the impoverished state of over 160 million people is especially vulnerable to virus prevention because of insufficient biosecurity and deficient disease surveillance.
The disease was first detected in Bangladesh in 2008. The most serious outbreak of the Chikungunya disease occurred only this year, although there were some cases of the disease in 2008 and subsequent years, Flora said.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
The dengue-like viral disease was reportedly first designated during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952.
Professor Abul Kalam Azad, director general for Health Services in Bangladesh, said the government is well aware of the prevailing Chikungunya situation in the country.
Many measures have already been taken to contain further outbreaks of the disease in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, said Azad, who is also heading a 21-member high-powered committee for the control and prevention of the disease.
According to the WHO, there is no direct person-to-person transmission of the disease and there are no specific antiviral drugs and no commercial vaccine. Enditem