Nov 15 (Reuters) – Bangladesh is currently experiencing its most severe outbreak of dengue fever on record, and experts are pointing to climate change as a contributing factor.
They say rising temperatures and an extended monsoon season are creating optimal conditions for the Aedes mosquito, the carrier of the viral disease.
The death toll has topped 1,400 so far this year, official data showed – more than five times that of 2022. With almost 300,000 infected.
Hospitals are struggling to make space for patients as the disease spreads rapidly in the densely-populated country.
Kabirul Basha, an entomologist and zoology professor at Jahangirnagar University, has spent most of his career studying mosquitoes.
As authorities scramble to contain and treat the disease, Bashar decided to intensify his research on the mosquito that spreads it.
“Temperature, humidity and other components are changing patterns due to climate change. We are seeing monsoon-like rain in mid-October which is unusual. These seasonal pattern changes are creating the ideal situation for Aedes mosquito breeding. Aedes mosquitoes are adapting to these changes. Also, stranded rainwater creates perfect spots for Aedes mosquitoes to lay eggs and increase its density.”
Physicians have noted unusual symptoms this year, complicating diagnosis.
And many people are symptom-free, suggesting case numbers could be far higher than those reported.
Without a specific vaccine or drug to treat dengue, and hospitals facing shortages of essential supplies, Bashar suggests vector surveillance – a close examination of how the disease is spreading – is now needed year-round in Bangladesh.