On course to wrecking more havoc

Staff Correspondent
Wednesday, July 12th, 2017


Is chikungunya en route to being Bangladesh’s next epidemic?


60 year old Salma Begum has been writhing in pain on her bed for over a month now. She told Dhaka Courier that earlier she suffered from fever which fluctuated between 102-104°, but that was not the worst part. She further complained of severe joint pains, which were spreading over all the veins in her body. Salma chose not to go to the doctor or get admitted to a hospital – as she knew from reading from the newspapers what she was suffering from. It is the current socially-trending topic, taking the course of massive discussions from tea-stalls to wedding dining halls. Beware the wrath of Chikungunya.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes causing fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue and zika, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where they are common. There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms. The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for chikungunya.


Chikungunya was first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952, several reports stated that the outbreak of the disease has increased 30 times higher in the past 50 years.


Government statements and initiatives


The government’s disease-monitoring arm, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), has ruled out chikungunya taking the form of a widespread epidemic as yet, but sources have confirmed that they are considering it as a viral outbreak.


Director of IEDCR Sania Tahmina refused to call it an epidemic. “We could call it a big outbreak, but not an epidemic,” she said. However, others say it should be called an epidemic. The microbiology and micology department chief National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM) professor Benazir Ahmed said it should be called an epidemic.


A control room on Chikungunya disease was opened on 3 July at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR). Anyone can contact the control room for consulting with physicians on Chikungunya. The contact numbers are: 01937110011 and 01937000011.State minister for health and family welfare Zahid Maleque said Chikungunya has not spread in an epidemic form in the country as the disease is limited in Dhaka city.


Meanwhile, the IEDCR in a statement refuted a press statement that one in 11 persons each in the city is infected by Chikungunya, saying it is not true. The statement followed a survey conducted by the IEDCR on 4,775 people in Dhaka city through mobile phone to know the presence of Chikungunya. At a press conference held recently, Sania Tahmina said, “We have conducted a survey at 50 sites of 47 wards in Dhaka city to identify risk areas for Chikungunya disease.”


The role of our city’s running patriarchs


Amidst all such news, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokan recently advised all not to get scared over chikungunya disease. “There is nothing panic. The fever is curable in seven days by taking paracetamol only,” he said, while inaugurating a crash programme for prevention of chikungunya and dengue at a function at Battola of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) in the capital. Sayeed Khokan said a number of people have been affected by the virus but none died. Awareness should be created among the mass people about this disease, he added.


Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Annisul Huq said efforts have been increased to destroy the mosquito. He mentioned that this year, Tk 25 crore has been allocated to carry out the mosquito destruction campaign.


But after a period of dismal performance from the mayors, Health Minister Mohammad Nasim had slammed both the city patriarchs (Nagar Pita). “This is not our (health ministry) duty to clean up the city . . . this time the city corporations were not sincere in cleaning the city and eradicate mosquitoes resulting in the outbreak of Chikungunya,” he said while addressing a World Population Day discussion at Osmani Memorial Hall on July 11.


State Minister for Health, Zahid Maleque had also echoed similar sentiments, adding that “people have been facing severe mosquito problems for the last couple of weeks, as the two city corporations failed to take timely action in controlling their breeding . . . they also failed to clean water bodies in time although the cleaning should have been done well before the mosquito breeding season”.


The road ahead


The lack of immunity among people living in Dhaka provided a blank canvas for chikungunya to spread throughout the population this year. Health experts blamed lack of awareness at the family level for the current surge in chikungunya disease, saying that the city dwellers are not aware enough to destroy breeding sources of aedes mosquitoes. “People in Dhaka city should be more cautious to keep their houses clean and destroy all potential mosquito breeding sources to prevent chikungunya disease,” Prof Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told Dhaka Courier. She said a massive awareness campaign is needed to destroy the breeding sources of mosquito for stopping outbreak of chikungunya.




Chikungunya is characterised by an abrupt onset of fever frequently accompanied by joint pain. Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash




There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids. There is no commercial Chikungunya vaccine as of yet

Leave a Reply

  • National
  • International