Dengue fever cases up sharply

PHUKET CITY: The Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO) is urging the public to take steps to eradicate mosquitoes around their premises in an effort to prevent the spread of dengue fever.

Despite efforts by the PPHO to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne disease after the tsunami, there have been 68 reported cases of the disease since the beginning of the year – about double the number of cases during the same period last year.

Most cases were reported in Thalang district (33), followed by Muang District (29) and Kathu (6).

The PPHO mosquito-eradication effort is part of a nationwide campaign by the Public Health Ministry to curb the disease, which killed 14 people nationwide between January 1 and April 30.

The Ministry has said it will also launch a five-day “Anti-Dengue Fever Week” nationwide, starting May 23.

The Ministry fears that one of the sub-types of the four dengue viral strains common in Thailand may have mutated into a more virulent form, and it is now conducting research on dengue sufferers in an attempt to identify any new strains.

An expert in communicable diseases at the PPHO, who asked to remain anonymous, explained that those who have already been exposed to the disease and are then bitten by a mosquito carrying a different strain are particularly at risk.

Such victims can go into shock because the body may misdirect its immune response, trying to fight the strain to which it has already been exposed.

Although the risk of infection by the the dengue virus is equally distributed among age brackets, those in the 10- to 14-year-old category tend to have the highest incidence of dengue infection because they are the least careful about protecting themselves from mosquito stings. Parents are more likely to protect infants from mosquitoes, the official said.

The PPHO will continue its campaign to eradicate mosquitoes and their larvae by spraying insecticide and pouring chemicals into sewer systems, she added.

The office is also asking the public to drain potential breeding sites, such as inside discarded tires. People should also take all precautions to protect themselves and their children from mosquito bites, the expert said.

Phuket News
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