Dengue outbreak reports “exaggerated’

PHUKET CITY: Dr Wanchai Sattayawutthipong, Chief Of Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO), today denied media reports that 100 people in Phuket have contracted dengue fever already this year, saying that only half that number had been confirmed as having the disease.

A report by the state-run Thai News Agency (TNA), an arm of the Mass Communications Organization of Thailand, for example, reported March 23 that “Almost 100 people a month [are] now seeking treatment for the disease”.

Dr Wanchai said, “Dengue fever has been spreading since the beginning of the year. We have had about 100 people report themselves as possible cases,” he said. “But there have been only 50 confirmed cases, with none of them serious and no deaths.”

However, the number of confirmed cases is still more than double the total number of confirmed cases in the whole of last year. “Last year we had about 20 cases of dengue fever,” Dr Wanchai said.

He said he believed that that the rise in the number of cases was not due to the tsunami and its aftermath, but was part of a natural cycle.

“When healthy people are bitten by a mosquito carrying dengue fever, they usually develop immunity to the disease that can last up to about two years, while unhealthy people will contract the disease,” he said.

Dr Wanchai added that the PPHO is taking steps to prevent an outbreak of dengue fever. “We have launched a campaign for people to rid their houses of the Asian tiger mosquito [which transmits dengue fever]. We are educating people about the mosquito and giving them insecticide to clean the water where the mosquito breeds.

“If we help people to take more care and to change the fresh water around their houses each week, it should be okay, because the mosquito breeds in fresh water,” he said.

However, he added, “Anyone who develops a high fever should be given paracetamol. If their condition does not improve within 24 hours they should be taken to hospital.”

Dr Wanchai also expressed concern that the incidence of diarrhea may rise on Phuket as the weather gets hotter, causing food to spoil faster than usual.

“People must eat clean food and [drink clean] water; they should eat at restaurants that have the PPHO ‘Clean Food Good Taste’ sign that ensures the restaurant serves hygienic food, and they should drink bottled water only,” he advised.

Meanwhile, TNA has also reported that students at Mahidol University have developed the world’s first dengue fever vaccine and expect to be ready to do large-scale clinical tests on humans in 2008 to 2010.

Phuket News

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