Dengue fever kills 104, infects more than 17,000 nationwide since January

Asip Hasani, Agustinus Hari and Markus Makur The Jakarta Post

The Indonesian Health Ministry has recorded a total of 17,820 cases of dengue fever since January this year, with at least 104 cases that turned fatal nationwide.

In East Java, which has recorded at least 1,761 cases of dengue fever to date, as many as 15 people have died, with nine fatalities recorded in February and six in January, said the provincial health agency head, Herlin Herliana.

"The fatality rate [in East Java] so far is 0.85 percent of total cases," Herlin told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Most of the fatalities were recorded in Trenggalek, with three. Banyuwangi and Jember regencies each recorded two deaths, while the remaining occurred in eight other cities or regencies in the province.

Fatal cases of dengue fever happened mostly because of patients waiting too long to seek treatment at health facilities, Herlin said.

According to the Health Ministry, the most reported cases of dengue fever were in Lampung province with 3,431, followed by 2,732 cases in East Nusa Tenggara — where the highest number of cases occurred in Sikka regency with 1,216 as of Wednesday.

East Nusa Tenggara provincial administration spokesperson Marius Jelamu said that Sikka had declared an emergency status for the dengue fever outbreak because of the high number of reported cases.

“There are a total of 23 regencies and cities [in East Nusa Tenggara] that have reported dengue fever cases. Some regencies see decreasing number of cases over time, while some others show an increase,” Marius told the Post.

The death toll from dengue fever in East Nusa Tenggara rose to 32 on Monday — the highest number of fatalities among all provinces in the country.

Meanwhile, in North Sulawesi’s South Minahasa regency, dengue fever has infected 116 people and killed three toddlers over the past three months, said the head of the South Minahasa Health Agency’s Disease Prevention Division, Yunike Panambunan.

"Two toddlers died of dengue fever in East Amurang district in early January, while the disease also killed another toddler in Tenga district in March,” Yunika said.

The last victim, she said, died because the parents failed to bring the 3-year-old to the hospital on time.

"The parents had been advised to bring the toddler to the hospital. Unfortunately, they brought the baby to the Prof. Kandou Central General Hospital in Manado when he was already in critical condition,” Yunike said, adding that the toddler was admitted to the hospital on March 8 and died shortly after.

Officials from the Health Ministry had visited dengue affected areas in Pondang and Ranomeaa subdistrict in East Amurang, as well as Ongkaw village in Tenga district to check every house and school for Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae, she said.

With the deaths of the three toddlers, dengue fever had so far killed seven people in the region in the last three years, including two fatalities recorded in 2019 and two others recorded in 2018, Yunike said.

The fatalities “are a sign for the public to be alert” over the disease, she said, adding that people should therefore make upfront preventive measures to eradicate mosquito breeding grounds.

“They should maintain the hygiene of their environment and cut the dengue fever chain by closing the water storage containers and burying or recycling used goods,” Yunike said.

The number of nationwide dengue fever cases from January to March 11 this year is smaller than in the same period last year when there were about 52,000 cases and 439 deaths.

Cases of dengue fever nationwide have continued to decline since 2016 when 204,171 people were infected. (nal)