Bangladesh faces deadliest dengue epidemic in history

More than 1,000 people have died from dengue fever since the beginning of 2023 in Bangladesh, five times more than last year. Hospitals are overwhelmed and struggling to treat patients. This increase is caused by climate change and disorganized urbanization.

Dengue infected people hospitalized at Mugda Medical College and Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh, September 5, 2023. REUTERS - MOHAMMAD PONIR HOSSAIN

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in New Delhi, Sébastien Farcis

For the past month, about 12 people have died every day from dengue fever in Bangladesh, an unprecedented hecatomb in this densely populated country. Thousands of patients have to be treated at the same time in overwhelmed hospitals, where authorities are struggling to distribute enough saline solutions, a product that helps the body fight the virus.

Dengue fever, transmitted by the tiger mosquito, regularly hits the region during this monsoon season, but this peak is exceptional. This is the result of heavy rains and high heat over the past two months, following the arrival of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

See alsoThe return of the El Niño climate phenomenon

These hot and humid conditions favor the reproduction of mosquitoes, especially since the big Bangladeshi cities are poorly organized: rainwater stagnates everywhere, and especially in the many construction sites, where mosquitoes then develop rapidly.

Many Bangladeshis are infected for the second time this year, making them even more vulnerable. One dengue vaccine has been marketed by Sanofi, but in a very controlled way, and two others have just completed their clinical trials.

Also listen: Impact of climate change on mosquitoes

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