Viet Nam

Dengue alarm raised in Central Highlands

DAK LAK (VNS) — Hygiene and epidemic prevention authorities in the Central Highlands provinces have raised the alarm of a serious dengue fever epidemic hitting the region due to unexpected changes in the weather conditions since the beginning of the year.

The alarm was sounded on Monday after the Central Highlands Institute of Epidemic Prevention reported nearly 900 cases in the region so far this year, up over 20 per cent compared to the same period last year.

According to the report, the largest numbers of dengue infections were recorded in the provinces of Gia Lai and Dak Lak.

The institute also requested provinces and local people enact measures to prevent the disease's spread, such as raising public awareness and spraying mosquito repellent in high-risk areas.

Health experts say that the rapid variation in weather conditions and erratic temperature fluctuations are resulting in a rise in dengue cases.

Localities have launched responses to the outbreak, including establishing inspection groups in high risk areas, providing necessary equipment, opening training courses for medical staff and destroying mosquito larva.

According to the World Health Organization, around 100 million people are infected with dengue fever each year around the world, mostly children below 15. The disease is circulating in more than 100 tropical countries with about 3.5 billion living in high-risk areas.

Data from the Western Pacific Region of the WHO revealed that the number of dengue cases in Viet Nam last year increased over the previous year. In 2015, about 97,400 cases were reported, more than triple the 32,000 cases reported in 2014.

The dengue-related death toll also tripled with 61 deaths in 2015 compared to 20 in 2014.

The number of dengue cases was higher than any year since 2010 (109,304). The years following were 2011 (64,532), 2012 (79,485) and 2013 (60,588).

The disease, once called "break-bone fever", is contracted through bites from dengue-infected mosquitoes. Its symptoms include headaches, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands, vomiting and rashes. There is no medication to cure the disease, only to ease the symptoms.

Dengue fever of multiple types is found in most countries of the tropics and subtropics, particularly during and after rainy season. — VNS