Source: Vientiane Times
Health authorities say Laos still faces challenges in preventing dengue fever this year, especially with the emergence of dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Meanwhile, the number of dengue fever infections in Vientiane overall has increased at a higher rate than in other parts of the country
Head of the Epidemiology Division under the Vientiane Health Department, DrChanthalaySayavong, told Vientiane Times recently that health authorities are particularly concerned about dengue hemorrhagic fever after the first death from this form of dengue was recorded in the capital.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is more severe and life-threatening than other forms of dengue, all of which are spread by the Aedesaegypti mosquito.
Four different types of the dengue virus are known to cause dengue hemorrhagic fever. All forms of dengue are transmitted when a person is bitten by a mosquito that is infected with the virus.
Significant dengue outbreaks occurred in Laos in 2010 and 2013, DrChanthalay said.
At the beginning of 2013, “We saw the highest number of dengue cases reported since 2010. Climate changes were also a concern at the time,” he added.
The situation today is similar to that in 2013 before the dengue outbreak occurred, he added.
“Our goal is to jointly strengthen the fight against dengue fever with an eye to preventing a future pandemic in Laos,” DrChanthalay said.
One activity that has met with success is health officials’ requests for communities to get rid of the potential breeding sources of the dengue mosquito each week. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, so these need to be cleared or emptied out to prevent eggs developing into adult mosquitoes.
The cooperation of villagers is essential in removing mosquito breeding grounds. Family members, family heads, village heads, associations, charities and monks are all important in the battle against the potentially fatal virus.
More than 1,760 dengue fever infections were recorded in Laos along with three deaths in the capital and Khammuan and Champassak provinces from January until the end of May this year.
The provinces of Bokeo, LuangNamtha, Xaysomboun, Phongsaly, Huaphan and XiengKhuang have not reported any outbreaks recently.
According to the Ministry of Health, the number of reported cases is slightly higher than the 1,716 cases reported in 2014 but lower compared to the same period in the epidemic years of 2010 and 2013.
The year 2013 was particularly challenging with 15 out of 17 provinces reporting dengue at alarming epidemic levels and a total of 95 deaths from a 44,171 reported dengue cases.