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SASTM Newsflash - Dengue: Laos, Northern Thailand


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Dengue – Laos, Northern Thailand


Laos is gripped by a deadly surge in dengue fever cases, with at least 50 people dead so far this year [2013] in an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease expected to be one of the country's worst.


Some 14 000 dengue cases have been reported so far, at least a 10-fold jump over the same period last year [2012], and the number is expected to rise in coming months as the rainy season progresses. Official media predicted that 250 people could perish this year [2013] from the deadly disease.


The World Health Organization said this week [week of 24 Jun 2013] that infections had reached the level of an epidemic alert, and last week [week of 17 Jun 2013], the organization's representative in Laos Li Yungguo warned that Laos could face "the worst dengue epidemic in its history."


Health officials are encouraging the public to donate blood and to clear out sources of water that could be breeding grounds for the _Aedes aegypti_ mosquito, which spreads the disease.


A health official in Champassak province, one of the epicenters of the outbreak, told RFA's Lao Service that the situation was worsened by those reluctant to go for treatment until they were very ill instead of getting treatment right away. "The deaths are mostly caused by refusal to go and seek treatment from the hospital," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They use cold medicine to treat themselves at home for 7 or 8 days until their conditions get worse."


Health officials have been encouraging people to seek treatment early to avoid giving others the [dengue] virus, which is the world's fastest-spreading tropical disease.


"We are conducting an awareness campaign urging people to avoid home treatment, to instead go and seek treatment and advice from medical staff," an official in the capital Vientiane said.


Another official said Friday [28 Jun 2013] that the city had reported about 1300 infections with one death so far. "At his death he was bleeding from the mouth and nose," he told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.


The official said the capital has enough medical personnel and drugs to deal with the situation compared to other areas, but has only one fumigator, equipment used to spray chemicals in the city to kill mosquitoes that spread the disease.


Most deaths from dengue fever in the country have involved children under the age of 15.


So far this year [2013], the infection rate for dengue fever has increased 10-fold compared to the number of recorded cases in the same period last year [2012].


The peak infection period usually falls in September and October, and state media has reported around 28 000 people will be infected with dengue fever this year [2013], with some 250 projected fatalities.


[The official] said there could be serious economic and social consequences for Laos including deaths, overloaded central, provincial, and district healthcare facilities and incapacitated workers.


Last year [2012], almost 10 000 people were infected with dengue in Laos, causing 22 fatalities, according to the Vientiane Times.


Laos is one of several countries in the region seeing record numbers of people infected with the mosquito-borne virus. The others are neighbors Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia.


The higher prevalence of dengue is attributed to fluctuating weather patterns, the hot weather and heavy rainfall -- conditions are conducive to high breeding rates of mosquitoes.


There is currently no approved vaccine or specific drug treatment for dengue fever, which globally kills some 20 000 people every year out of between half a million and one million people infected with it.


Communicated by: PRO/MBDS


Dengue fever outbreaks appear to be more severe in northern Thailand, prompting local public health offices to speed up their campaigns and actions against the deadly virus, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.


In reference to the northernmost Chiang Rai province, bordering Laos and Myanmar, for instance, chief of provincial public health office Dr Chamnan Hansutthivejjakul told journalists on Tuesday [2 Jul 2013] that his office would keep a close watch on the updated situation amid rising dengue fever patients, mostly aged 14-25 years old.


Dr Chamnan reported that the number of dengue fever patients in Chiang Rai in June 2013 alone stood at 1731; 3 of them died, while accumulated dengue fever cases in the province since the beginning of this year [2013] have been recorded at 2885. Mae Sai district was found to be hardest hit by 852 cases, followed by Muang and Wiang Pa Pao districts, respectively.


In adjacent Lampang province, Governor Thawatchai Terdphaothai, as the head of the provincial committee against dengue fever, called a meeting with relevant agencies, during which he was informed by Lampang's provincial public health office that accumulated dengue fever cases stood at 1239 so far this year [2013], 16 times higher than previous years [2012].


According to the governor, areas in Lampang hardest hit by dengue fever include Muang, Mae Moh, Koh Kha, and Ngao districts, prompting local officials to eliminate breeding grounds of the mosquito.





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The content and opinions are neither pre-screened nor endorsed by the SASTM. The content should neither be interpreted nor quoted as inherently accurate or authoritative.

The information provided in SASTM Newsflashes is collected from various news sources, health agencies and government agencies. Although the information is believed to be accurate, any express or implied warranty as to its suitability for any purpose is categorically disclaimed. In particular, this information should not be construed to serve as medical advice for any individual. The health information provided is general in nature, and may not be appropriate for all persons. Medical advice may vary because of individual differences in such factors as health risks, current medical conditions and treatment, allergies, pregnancy and breast feeding, etc. In addition, global health risks are constantly evolving and changing. International travelers should consult a qualified physician for medical advice prior to departure.

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