Nepal | September 29, 2020

Dengue spreading at alarming rate nationwide

Sabitri Dhakal
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The highest number of dengue patients has been reported in Province 3 with 2,010 people testing positive for the disease

Kathmandu, September 9

The number of dengue patients has increased by 52 per cent across the country in the past five days with some high-profile people — Agriculture Minister Chakrapani Khanal and the renowned ophthalmologist Sanduk Ruit — contracting the disease, which has taken at least six lives so far.

A total of 3,899 people had tested positive for the mosquito-borne disease throughout the country till yesterday, according to Epidemiology and Disease Control Division. Five days ago, the number was 2,559, meaning 268 new dengue patients have been added every day since Tuesday.

As dengue is spreading at an alarming rate, lawmakers yesterday drew the attention of the government.

However, the government so far has not responded regarding its intention to control the disease, which is creating panic among people.

“We have to make a concerted effort to contain the infection as the government cannot do much on its own,” a senior official of the Ministry of Health and Population said on condition of anonymity, adding, “Every household and community should play a proactive role to limit the infection.”

Nepal has never seen the disease spreading with this intensity before. What is worrisome is that the death toll from the disease is gradually increasing. The disease has so far claimed six lives — two in Kathmandu and one each in Sindhupalchowk, Sunsari, Chitwan and Doti.

Dengue cases have so far been detected in 56 of 77 districts. Some of the new districts where the infection has been reported in the past five days are: Rolpa, Pyuthan, Rukum (west), Ramechhap, Sidhupalchowk, Dolakha, Manang and Maygdi.

A rise in temperature and change in rainfall pattern provide breeding ground for dengue. “Change in rainfall pattern due to climate change is another reason for the rise in dengue cases. Dengue causing mosquitoes look for new habitats if their regular egg-laying habitats are destroyed,” said Ishan Gautam, associate professor of entomology at Tribhuvan University, who also works at the Natural History Museum.

The highest number of dengue patients has been reported in Province 3, where 2,010 people have tested positive for the disease. The number of people affected by the disease in the province is 51 per cent of the total dengue patients across the country.

Gandaki Province and Province 1 have reported 896 and 831 cases of dengue infections respectively.

In terms of districts, Chitwan, Kaski and Makawanpur are the worst-affected. Chitwan has recorded 1,036 dengue patents, followed by 715 in Kaski and 624 in Makawanpur. These districts had reported 434, 517 and 546 dengue cases, respectively, five days ago.

Kathmandu district too has seen a sharp uptick in the number of dengue patients, with the number soaring from 76 to 254 in the past five days.

Two other districts in Kathmandu Valley have also seen a surge in the number of dengue patients. The number of dengue patients in Lalitpur soared from 7 to 32 in the past five days while in Bhaktapur, the number of dengue infections jumped from 6 to 33 in the same period. Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital at Teku has admitted 23 dengue patients.

The dengue virus is transmitted to humans when the female Aedes aegypti mosquito bites a person. It is more likely to bite early in the morning or before dusk.

The symptoms of dengue include high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, pain in muscles and bones, rashes and back pain.

The incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades. A vast majority of cases are asymptomatic and hence the actual numbers of dengue cases are underreported and many cases are misclassified. One estimate indicates 390 million dengue infections per year, of which 96 million (67–136 million) manifest clinically (with any severity of disease).

Another study, of the prevalence of dengue, estimates that 3.9 billion people, in 128 countries, are at risk of infection with dengue viruses.

A version of this article appears in print on September 10, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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