Bangladesh is facing the largest outbreak of dengue it’s ever reported, the WHO says. As of 4 September, there have been over 133,000 dengue cases and 646 deaths – more than double the numbers recorded last year. What has made 2023 so deadly? Dengue is transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito and has become endemic in countries with monsoons. But this year Bangladesh has seen an unusual earlier and episodic amount of rain, higher temperatures and higher humidity, all of which are attributable to climate change and ideal for Aedes breeding. Urban development also increases the spread as stagnant water collects on construction sites. There is no specific treatment for dengue, making proper symptom management the only way to deal with serious cases and prevent death. But this year’s surge has put Bangladesh’s already shaky health sector under strain. In Dhaka, the epicentre of the outbreak, previously dedicated Covid-19 hospitals are being repurposed to treat dengue.
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