The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) in Dhaka, Bangladesh reported 2,197 additional dengue fever cases today, bringing the total for the year to 102,191–a new annual record for the country.
The previous record was 101,354 cases registered in 2019.
In addition, nine more deaths have been reported, putting the toll for 2023 to date to 485, more than 200 deaths higher than the previous record 281 in 2022.
A recent study published in Tropical Medicine and Health notes that underreporting of dengue occurs in Bangladesh.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Bangladesh, officially initiated the hospital-based dengue surveillance system during the first major outbreak in 2000, where all suspected, probable, and confirmed cases were considered. However, the case definition was updated in 2010 to include only serologically confirmed cases in the surveillance system. Consequently, the current tracking system inherently underestimates the dengue burden in Bangladesh, because many asymptomatic and mild dengue cases are missed out. In addition, this surveillance system was mostly Dhaka city based until the 2019 outbreak when DGHS systematically started collecting district-wise (64 administrative districts) dengue cases. In Dhaka city, only 50 hospital hospitals (17 public and 33 private) out of several hundred hospitals/clinics are assigned to report dengue cases to the current surveillance system. Moreover, several barriers could contribute to the profoundly under-ascertainment and under-reporting of dengue in Bangladesh. These include a lack of healthcare infrastructure at the district level, limited financial resources, and cultural beliefs that may discourage seeking medical care. These barriers can be particularly challenging for women, who may face additional obstacles such as a lack of mobility, social norms that limit their ability to travel or interact with male healthcare providers, and a lack of education or awareness about dengue fever.
Dengue incidence was sporadically reported between 1964 and 1999 in Bangladesh until the first major outbreak occurred in 2000 when 5551 hospitalized cases and 93 deaths were recorded. Since then, dengue has become an endemic disease causing thousands of infections and affecting the quality of life of the population.