Mosquito-borne virus chikungunya spreads in Dhaka

Mosquito-borne virus chikungunya spreads in Dhaka

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A new disease called Chikungunya that causes painful and sometimes crippling symptoms has spread in the capital Dhaka, raising a public health alarm.
The mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus first broke out in the northern Chapainawabganj district in 2008 and a year later it was found in the north-western Sathia, and in 2011 again in northern Shibganj upazilla. The same year it was also found in the Dhaka suburb of Dohar.
But the government’s disease monitoring arm, IEDCR, on Wednesday only confirmed its presence in the capital after testing bloods from households of four different corners.Director of the IEDCR Prof Mahmudur Rahman, however, urged people not to be panicky, rather be aware of the disease and prevent mosquito bite.
Aedes aegypti that causes dengue, breakbone fever, carries the virus.
It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
According to World Health Organisaiton, the disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.
There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.
Since 2004, Chikungunya fever has reached epidemic proportions, with considerable morbidity and suffering, WHO says.
It caused an epidemic that began in Kenya in 2004 and spread to several Indian Ocean islands including the Comoros, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Madagascar, Mayotte and Reunion.
India reported an estimated 14 million cases since Dec 2005.
The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually lasts for a few days or may be prolonged to weeks.
The director Prof Rahman said their team had collected blood samples in Aug and Sep last year from every 10th house of Sutrapur, Dhanmondhi, Motijheel and Mohakhali areas.
More than 600 samples have been tested from people between 15 years and 60 years old.
Analysing the report, he said they had found recent infections in 33 percent people among the tested blood.
Three percent have been found with past infections, he said.
Chikungunya is a type of virus called an arbovirus that Aedes albopictus mosquito can also spread. But this type of mosquito is seen mostly in rural areas.
Monsoon is the season of the virus.
Prof Rahman said they would look further to ascertain how many people among the tested samples had fever.
“We just drew samples from one in every 10th house, did not consider whether he/she suffered fever or not,” he said.
He said internationally it was established that in 25 per cent cases the virus could be ‘asymptomatic’ in a person.
But he asserted that doctors have to take Chikungunya into their consideration when they diagnose a patient with symptoms similar to dengue.
The IEDCR tests any blood samples doctors refer for Chikungunya without any charge, he said.
The test is also available in some big private facilities, but it is expensive.
The director said they would study further in at least 10 districts to understand the spread of the mosquito-borne disease.
“I feel it’s an emerging public health problem for us,” he said.
Mosquito-borne disease is a world-wide concern that prompted the WHO to observe this year’s health day on the issue.
Bangladesh has six mosquito-borne diseases that include malaria, kala-azar, filariasis, and Japanese encephalitis, apart from dengue and Chikungunya.
Mosquito prevention is the key, Prof Rahman said, adding that “Chikungunya patients should be kept within mosquito net”.
The disease does not spread person to person, but mosquito bite can spread it, he said.
Aedes aegypti mostly breeds in domestic container in clean water.-bdnews24.com

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