Vol. 4 Num 175 Wed. November 19, 2003  
Front Page

Pneumonia death toll rises to 357

Pneumonia death toll rose to 357 yesterday with 161 deaths in the last one week as the viral infection is spreading across the country, unofficial reports said.

The number of pneumonia deaths stood at 196 on November 13, according to an estimate by Disaster Forum, a non-governmental organisation.

The situation took a turn for the worse particularly in Cox's Bazar, Jhenaidah and Netrokona with the disease claiming 103, 100 and 31 lives.

No official reports on the countrywide status of pneumonia this season were available.

However, Director General (DG) of the Directorate of Health Services Mizanur Rahman said last night 10 people died of pneumonia yesterday, of them six in Dhaka Division, three in Khulna Division and one in Rajshahi Division.

The number of pneumonia attacks is 250 including 94 acute cases in Dhaka Division, 77 in Khulna Division with 54 of those acute and 452 in Rajshahi Division including 55 acute cases, the DG said.

Medical experts said dry weather during the change of season might be a major reason behind the spread of pneumonia.

"Respiratory tract becomes vulnerable to infection as it gets dry through evaporation because of dryness of the weather. The vulnerable respiratory passage easily gets infected with virus floating in the dry air," one expert explained.

He went on, "It's the responsibility of the Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) department of the health directorate to determine the exact reason behind pneumonia."

He however added there is nothing to be alarmed about as routine treatment can cure pneumonia patients.

A senior doctor said, "Most, probably many of the reported pneumonia patients, are affected by another respiratory condition known as bronchiolitis."

"It is true that there has been a rise in the number of pneumonia patients but they are getting well in conventional treatment," he added.

A total of 78,489 people were affected with pneumonia till yesterday, unofficial reports said.

Of them, 40,000 cases were reported in Jhenaidah, 1,897 in Netrokona, 1,050 in Dhaka with 29 deaths, 583 in Mymensingh with 22 deaths, 700 in Meherpur with 17 deaths, 33,000 in Chandpur with 17 deaths and 538 in Cox's Bazar.

Seven people reportedly died of pneumonia in Magura with 78 affected, six died in Bandarban with 40 affected, one died in Jessore with 100 affected, 15 died in Dinajpur with 200 affected and seven died in Narail with 288 affected till yesterday.

Moreover, 138 pneumonia patients were treated at Dhaka Shishu Hospital till yesterday.