Health Ministry warns of dengue fever during rainy season

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People should be extra mindful of the spread of dengue fever amid the rainy season, when dengue-bearing mosquitos are most active, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

According to Health Ministry records, three provinces have declared a dengue fever emergency as of Monday: North Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and Central Kalimantan.

The ministry’s director for vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said the number of reported dengue fever cases was indeed rising, but every case had to be confirmed to determine whether it was indeed dengue fever.

Citing data compiled by the ministry, she said 10 provinces had shown an uptrend in dengue fever cases between Jan. 1 and 17. They were East Java with 1,081 cases, Central Java ( 650 ), West Java ( 541 ), East Kalimantan ( 236 ), South Kalimantan ( 241 ), NTT ( 208 ), Lampung ( 204 ), North Sumatra ( 177 ), South Sulawesi ( 172 ) and Banten ( 120 ).

“We have a kind of early-warning system, where we have real-time data on cases reported by hospitals and community health centers [Puskesmas],” Siti told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

“We analyze the data, and if a large rise in dengue fever cases suddenly happens in a short period of time in a certain area, we immediately discuss it with the city, regency or provincial administration in question.”

Puskesmas staff, she said, would check the location immediately to see if there were possible breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito -- which often breeds in stagnant water.

Siti urged people to be vigilant with regard to the dengue threat, as many areas across the country had entered the rainy season. She added that everyone should take part in efforts to contain the mosquito-borne disease or treat the people infected with the disease.

She said one of the easiest way for people to prevent a dengue outbreak was to remove stagnant water near their houses or surroundings. “We have to keep ourselves healthy, as well, because with a good immune system, even if we catch dengue fever, our body could heal immediately.”

Last week, the administration of Sragen in Central Java declared a dengue emergency across the regency following an outbreak that reportedly killed at least two people this month.

At least 111 cases have been reported in 19 districts since Jan. 1, with 21 cases reported in Mondokan and 15 in Sumberlawang.

Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo was quick to instruct health agencies in other regencies across the province to monitor and collect data from areas prone to dengue fever.

Jakarta has also been listed in the alert category for dengue fever.

Last year, the Jakarta Health Agency recorded 2,947 cases of dengue fever across the capital with two deaths, agency head Widyastuti told news agency Antara.

“We are involving the public in efforts to anticipate [a possible] dengue fever emergency,” she said. (spl/ipa)