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Thailand’s Health Officials Warn Over Outbreak of Dengue Fever

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s health officials are reporting an increase in dengue fever this year, in fact, they are reporting the highest number of cases by this time in five years.

Cases of the powerful infection – which can be fatal – have soared with almost twice as many deaths already reported this year compared with all of 2018.

Fifty-eight people have been killed by dengue fever in 2019 compared with just 33 in all of 2018, in what medics say is ”one of the most severe dengue outbreaks in recent years”.

Health officials said there have been 40,402 cases – 1.6 times as many as 2018 – of the disease this year. The virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and spread through bites.

Dr. Cheewanan Lertpiriyasuwat, the Vector Borne Diseases Bureau director at the country’s Department of Disease Control (DDC), said the ”current dengue outbreak situation was worrisome”.

She said that the prevalence of dengue in Thailand has jumped from last year’s figure of 38.6 people per 100,000 of the population to 61.16 persons per 100,000.

Dr. Cheewanan said: ”Considering the current rate of infection, we are faced with one of the most severe dengue outbreaks in recent years.

”The number of dengue cases in the first six months of this year is already higher than the numbers reported in an entire year during the last half a decade.

”Thailand alone is not affected by a surge in dengue cases. Neighboring countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar are also experiencing a rapid spread of dengue at a record-breaking rate as well.”

Medics said that during the current surge in cases, the strain spreading the dengue virus is DENV-2 or dengue virus type 2, which is more lethal than other dengue strains, especially among adults .

To prevent the spread of dengue, they have urged those in the country to avoid breeding grounds of mosquitoes.

About Dengue Fever

Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. There are four closely related but antigenically different serotypes of the virus that can cause dengue (DEN1, DEN 2, DEN 3, DEN 4).

    • Dengue Fever (DF) – marked by an onset of sudden high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, and pain in muscles and joints. Some may also have a rash and varying degree of bleeding from various parts of the body (including nose, mouth and gums or skin bruising).Dengue has a wide spectrum of infection outcome (asymptomatic to symptomatic). Symptomatic illness can vary from dengue fever (DF) to the more serious dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF).
    • Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) – is a more severe form, seen only in a small proportion of those infected. DHF is a stereotypic illness characterized by 3 phases; febrile phase with high continuous fever usually lasting for less than 7 days; critical phase (plasma leaking) lasting 1-2 days usually apparent when fever comes down, leading to shock if not detected and treated early; convalescence phase lasting 2-5 days with improvement of appetite, bradycardia (slow heart rate), convalescent rash (white patches in red background), often accompanied by generalized itching (more intense in palms and soles), and diuresis (increase urine output).
    • Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) — Shock syndrome is a dangerous complication of dengue infection and is associated with high mortality. Severe dengue occurs as a result of secondary infection with a different virus serotype. Increased vascular permeability, together with myocardial dysfunction and dehydration, contribute to the development of shock, with resultant multiorgan failure.