Bangladeshis Use Social Media to Tackle a Dengue Outbreak
Many are resorting to social media to collect blood.
In the past few years, especially during the monsoon season, the number of dengue fever cases has risen in Bangladesh. This year, it took an alarming turn with a total of 7,179 cases recorded – nearly 2800 of them from the first half of July alone.
As government resources are seemingly overwhelmed by the severity of this recent spike in dengue cases, people are turning to social media to voice their complaints, share information about the spread of the virus, and to spread awareness about how people can protect themselves.
Dengue in Bangladesh: Nearly 2800 cases in first 16 days of July – Outbreak News Today https://t.co/Ey7qUZ6HNR
— Tahsin Ahmmed (@tahsinaf) July 17, 2019
Record highs in July
22 July saw record highs as 403 new dengue patients were admitted to hospitals in a 24-hour period. According to some experts, the effects of climate change, intermittent rain, unusual weather patterns, and lack of cleanliness are the main culprits for the rise in dengue cases. Others also shared that this year’s strain of the dengue virus is deadlier than in previous years. According to Twitter user Md. Saif:
এবারের ডেঙ্গু জ্বরের ধরন ও আকৃতি পাল্টে গিয়েছে, তাই জ্বর হলে ডাক্তারের সাথে অবশ্য যোগাযোগ করবেন > বঙ্গবন্ধু হাসপাতালের মেডিসিন বিশেষজ্ঞ।
এবারের ডেঙ্গুজ্বরে আক্রান্ত বেশিরভাগ রোগীর বিভিন্ন অঙ্গ দ্রুত অকার্যকর হয়ে (মাল্টি অর্গান ফেইলিওর) পড়ছে। যা আগের বছরগুলোতে দেখা যায়নি।
— ❣️ Mr. MD-S A I F..????????????⚽️ (@S_Alam1999) July 20, 2019
“This year the strain and symptom of the disease have changed so you need to go to your doctor immediately after catching the fever” – according to an expert physician at the Bangabandhu Medical Hospital. Severely affected patients are having multiple organ failure – this was unheard of in the previous years.
In an interview with the Bangla Tribune, Dr. Gulzar said that people who were previously infected with dengue have a greater risk of reinfection.
This year Dengue has a new strain, deadlier. It is inducing Dengue shock syndrome. There may be another cause – many were infected in the previous years, many perhaps did not notice. When they are being infected the second time, it is becoming deadlier.
Reports about new infection cases are spreading on social media and many users are becoming increasingly worried. Shofiq Ahmed shared a Tweet about a newly reported case:
ডেঙ্গু জ্বরে আক্রান্ত জাতিসংঘের আবাসিক সমন্বয়কারী https://t.co/KeZz8rocoT
— sofiq ahmad (@sofiqahmad) July 22, 2019
Even the Resident coordinator of the United Nations have been infected.
Twitter user Shorbo Bosonto mentioned:
ডেঙ্গু জ্বরে ২ চিকিৎসকের মৃত্যু, বাড়ছে আতঙ্ক; প্রধান স্বাস্থ্য কর্মকর্তাকে হাইকোর্টে তলব
বাংলাদেশে ডেঙ্গুর আক্রমন এখন গুরুতর জন আতংকের কারণ হয়ে উঠেছে। বাড়ছে আক্রান্ত ও মৃত্যুর সংখ্যা। pic.twitter.com/aMbGufjomB
— সর্ব বসন্ত (@Shorbobosonto) July 22, 2019
Even two doctors died in Dengue fever, and people are afraid now. The Dhaka Highcourt has summoned the Chief Health Officers of the government. The death toll is incereasing.
Is the government doing enough?
BBC Bangla Facebook page asked its readers to report back about any efforts by city officials in Dhaka to combat the spread the mosquitos. User Mohammad Mynuddin reported astonishing delays on the part of government officials to address the outbreak:
Nothing has been seen. A (City Corporation) worker has said that it would take a few weeks to import the protective drugs to decrease mosquitoes. He added that within October we would have the drugs. I was astonished ????????
With what many see as a lack of government response to the spike in dengue cases, citizens are taking to social media to raise awareness about the virus. Citizen media news outlet Health Barta uploaded a YouTube video detailing what to do when someone has dengue fever:
Many are resorting to social media to collect blood for patients. User Sajid Islam Khan tweeted that he needs blood for his brother who is suffering from dengue. Hannan Gazi posted a similar message:
খুব জরুরী রক্তের প্রয়োজন ???? ডেঙ্গু রোগীর জন্য
￼????রক্তের গ্রুপ: A- এ নেগেটিভ
￼????রক্তের পরিমাণ: ২ ব্যাগ
￼????রক্তদানের তারিখ: আজকে
￼????রক্তদানের স্থান : শান্তিনগর, ঢাকা।
— Hannan Gazi (@ha_finer) July 18, 2019
All the blood warriors of #Dhaka
Come Forward to save lives
We need blood urgently ???? for a Dengue patient
￼????Blood Group: A- A Negative
￼????Blood required: 2 bags
￼????Where: Shantinagar, Dhaka।
Independent media The Chittagong Post tweeted:
— TheChittagongPost (@TheCtgPost) July 23, 2019
Amidst the outbreak, the Mayor of Dhaka City North has canceled holiday leave for waste disposal and mosquito deterrent teams. However, to protect people from dengue fever, a lot more effort may be needed.
This article was originally published on Global Voices and has been republished under the Creative Commons license.