Dengue outbreak in Bangladesh sparks alarm after 364 people die this year and infections rise

A child is carried by his mother as he receives treatment for dengue at Mugda Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh is struggling to deal with higher casualties and infections from dengue this year, with officials warning that the death toll this month could break records. 

The government’s Directorate General of Health Services reports the 2023 death toll from the mosquito-born illness has reached 364 in the south Asian country. More than 78,000 people have been infected since January this year, it said. 

Officials warn that the number of deaths and infections this month could set a new, grim record. In the first 10 days of August, more than 23,000 people were diagnosed with dengue, compared to 43,854 cases during all of July. More than 100 people have died so far this month, over a third as many deaths from the illness during all of last year. 

In 2022, 62,382 people were infected and 281 people died of dengue, according to government figures. 

Dengue causes flu-like symptoms that most people recover from, but it also can rapidly lead to internal bleeding, organ failure and death. There generally is no specific treatment for the disease, but vaccines are available. Other countries, such as Cyprus and Bolivia, also have seen outbreaks this year. 

Infected people are overwhelming hospitals across the country, but some doctors and nurses are not sufficiently experienced or trained in how to treat dengue cases, experts say.