Health Authorities Concerned Over High Dengue Fever Levels

Year-to-date dengue fever infections have increased from 1,760 up to May 31 to 3,000 cases until June 30, along with five deaths being recorded in the country.

Authorities are particularly concerned that dengue has been recorded in the capital at a higher rate than other provinces in the country.

Year-to-date dengue fever cases in Vientiane have increased from 332 up to May 31 to 696 cases until June 30 with one death reported. During the same period last year there were no reports of any outbreaks, a health expert reported.

These figures contrast from January 1 to June 30 last year when there were 249 dengue fever cases  reported across the entire country.

Acting Director of the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology under the Ministry of Health, Dr Onechanh Keosavanh told Vientiane Times yesterday via telephone that openly reporting outbreaks was part of the plan in responding to dengue.

“This year, health authorities have admitted their concerns about the rate of dengue fever cases and Laos still faces challenges in preventing dengue fever as shown by the increased number of cases this year,” he said.

“We acknowledge that increasing public awareness is one of the main strategies to reduce the risk of dengue transmission,” Dr Onechanh.

Therefore, local officials and health authorities were urging people to clear potential mosquito breeding sites around their homes and workplaces to help curb the spread of the virus, he said.

These activities were focused on long-term prevention rather than solely treatment and were vital to combating the disease. In particular, local communities needed to keep their surroundings clean, while focusing on killing mosquitoes and their larva inside and near these areas, he added.

He explained every family should throw out any water that collects in jars, vases and dishes and should cover such vessels to prevent more water filling them up again. Schools, hospitals, factories, hotels, restaurants, tourist facilities and offices should organise cleaning activities to remove any sources of stagnant water to slow mosquito breeding.

Village heads, associations, charities and monks are also important in the battle against the potentially fatal virus.
Head of Epidemiology Division under the Vientiane Health Department, Dr Chanthalay Sayavong told Vientiane Times of plans to the fight against dengue fever and prevent a future pandemic in the target districts of the capital.

“With dengue fever infections continuing to increase health experts have convened urgent meeting every Monday discuss interventions undertaken in the fight against dengue fever,” he said.

“We have evaluated the fatal case and the prevalence of dengue fever is higher this year compared to the same period in 2016,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Health, reported cases are slightly higher than the 1,716 cases reported for 2014 but lower compared to the same period in the epidemic years of 2010 and 2013.

During 2013 was particularly challenging with 15 out of 17 provinces reporting dengue at alarming epidemic levels and a total of 95 deaths from a total of 44,171 reported dengue cases.