Dengue fever has already killed 31 people in Laos this year out of some 7,920 people who have been infected with the potentially fatal virus.
The number of infected people occurred between January 1 and now, but Laos has still not reached the peak period for dengue infections, which is in September and October.
Director of the National Centre Laboratory for Epidemiology, Dr Phengta Vongphrachanh, told Vientiane Times yesterday that there are four serotypes of dengue virus, and Laos and its neighbouring countries are currently facing dengue serotype 3, the main cause of the outbreak through the region.
“However, there has been no research done into which serotypes of the virus are the more dangerous. It is also very important for all patients to receive treatment in the right way and at the right time,” he said.
Dr Phengta Vongprachanh.
Dr Phengta said that the risk of developing severe dengue fever, also known as dengue haemorrhagic fever is high. This fever can cause severe bleeding, shock (sudden drop in blood pressure) and death. At any one time, all four strains of the dengue virus can be active, although one is usually dominant. There are no vaccines against dengue fever at the moment because of the many subtypes of the four serotypes of the virus, which make it difficult for the scientists to produce vaccines.
However, the most effective way to fight against dengue is to destroy mosquito breeding places at least once a week. This includes regularly emptying containers that collect standing water around the house, such as jars, tins and old tyres, and also clearing any thick bush nearby.
People should avoid being bitten while taking daytime naps by sleeping under a mosquito net. Insecticide sprays can also be used to keep rooms mosquito-free, however, the insecticide spray should be allowed to completely disappear before entering the room to make sure that the potentially harmful chemicals in the spray have gone.
Dr Phengta estimated that this year’s dengue situation is worse than in 2010, when almost 23,000 people were infected, resulting in more than 46 fatalities throughout the country.
He also advised people who feel ill to go to see a doctor instead of buying medicine from a pharmacy to self-treat.
“Most of the fatal cases presented at hospital too late, after the virus had already developed to the serious stage,” said Dr Phengta, adding an important piece of advice that people should avoid taking aspirin because it will make the walls of the blood vessels thinner, leading to them breaking easily.
He also urged the media to continue its campaign against dengue to make sure that the public follows the Ministry of Health’s advice by destroying the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.
published with the permission of Vientiane Times