Assault of chikungunya, other related diseases

Dhaka,  Sat,  23 September 2017
Published : 12 Jul 2017, 21:09:26

Assault of chikungunya, other related diseases

Amid the nearly appalling situation involving the outbreak of chikungunya in the Dhaka metropolitan area, two new developments add to its dreadfulness. A recent media report says chikungunya cases have been detected in a few areas in rural Bangladesh. The debilitating ailment is generally viewed in this country as being limited to the cities, especially Dhaka. According to another news item, the cases of dengue patients have also been detected in the capital lately. This disease has affected vast populations in the capital in the last one decade, leaving a trail of painful deaths, sufferings and trauma. Both the tropical fevers are mosquito-borne. Two particular species of mosquito -- Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus -- transmit them. While chikungunya fever does not cause deaths, it does make people go through physical torments that may drag up to six months to a year. The disease was first detected in Tanzania in 1952, and has been identified in 60 countries. 

Since the two mosquito species blamed for spreading chikungunya and dengue grow in clean rain water, monsoon is generally considered the ideal breeding time of these two vectors. The city corporation authorities are thus customarily vested with the task of making people aware of the steps for prevention of the two ailments. To what extent they have succeeded in carrying out their responsibilities may not appear difficult to decipher given the prevalence of chikungunya, and the looming threat of dengue. Placing the grim urban spectacle alongside that of rural swathes, the plight of the latter is understood. Except the awareness campaigns conducted by the non-government organisations (NGOs), the village people normally find few government agencies to turn to for remedies to the disease outbreaks. Thus, any worsening of the situation in the rural areas may catch the health authorities unawares and prompt them to swing into action post-haste. Taking preparations for dealing with such a bleak possibility well in advance warrants serious consideration.

The debilitating disease of chikungunya is not any strange phenomenon to Bangladesh villages. It first struck some rural neighbourhoods in 2008, with limited impact though. It flared in a few villages near Dhaka in 2011 and 2012. Mosquito-borne diseases have long pummelled rural life in the country. The rural people have for ages been entwined with the scourges of malaria and filaria, the latter confined to women only. Coming to the once-deadly malaria, despite the global campaign for its eradication conducted for nearly six decades, it has yet to be eliminated from the country. Meanwhile, women attacked by the virus of aedes mosquito-borne Zika, another alien infection, have been detected in some of the country's villages. The two diseases in combination comprise a double whammy for the country. In fact, there is little scope for skirting necessary measures aimed at stopping the advance of these ailments in rural Bangladesh.

With Dhaka and the nearby locations hit by the newly flared mosquito-borne diseases, i.e. chikungunya and dengue, many feel wary of the spectre of their outbreak in the country's big cities and the rural areas. One hopes the other mosquito-borne diseases, out of a list of total 11 worldwide, do not make their onslaught in the country.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
Published by the Editor for International Publications Limited from Tropicana Tower (4th floor), 45, Topkhana Road, GPO Box : 2526 Dhaka- 1000 and printed by him from City Publishing House Ltd., 1 RK Mission Road, Dhaka-1000.
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