CHIANG RAI – Thailand’s Public health Ministry reports dengue fever is a major health threat in border provinces in North Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son provinces.
Tourists are warned to take precautions if they are visiting areas bordering Laos and Myanmar. Chiang Rai’s golden triangle area on the Mekong River and the far northwest border province of Mae Hong Son are identified risk areas.
Health officials warn visitors the only preventative measure is to make sure you are not bitten by mosquito’s. Dengue fever is usually associated with mosquito’s that bite in the day. Visitors should make sure they cover up and spray exposed areas of the body with anti-mosquito spray.
Choice of accommodation is important too as small rustic resorts may look very attractive, but bedrooms may not be mosquito proof.
This year, Thailand could face its largest dengue fever epidemic in decades with Public Health Ministry estimating that 120,000 people could contract the virus. July to September are peak risk months.
More than 28,000 cases of dengue fever were reported between October to December last year even though winter is not the peak season for the disease.
The number of dengue cases continued to rise from January, with nearly 82,000 reported infections and 78 fatalities as of last week. Most of the fatalities were age between 15 to 24 years.
Two major dengue outbreaks have been recorded in Thailand, with more than 170,000 cases reported in 1986, and 118,700 people infected in 2010.
The dengue prevention operation is at its most intense during the rainy season – from this month to September – when mosquitoes breed rapidly.
Many Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, are experiencing warmer temperatures and irregular rainfall, and such conditions benefit the dengue-carrying mosquitoes.