Dengue fever has sickened more than 2,800 people and killed four in Thailand this year, sparking worries about a possible wider outbreak despite efforts to control the disease, the health ministry said on Sunday.
A total of 2,824 cases of the mosquito-borne illness were detected in Thailand from January 1 to February 9, compared to 1,702 cases with no fatalities reported during the same period in 2007, the ministry said in a statement.
Countries across Southeast Asia experienced the worst outbreaks of dengue fever in years in 2007, with Thailand reporting about 60,000 cases and 29 fatalities. Large outbreaks also occurred in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia.
The dengue virus causes severe joint pain, high fever, nausea and a rash. In the worst cases it can lead to internal bleeding, liver enlargement, circulatory shutdown and sometimes death. There is no known cure or vaccine.
Scientists fear rising temperatures and longer rainy seasons – like Thailand experienced last year – will allow more mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria to flourish.
“The mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus have also been able to adapt to climate change, becoming more resistant to dry weather and breeding faster,” ministry official Praj Boonyarowong said in the statement.
The ministry advised people to protect themselves from mosquitoes by ridding their homes and surroundings of flower pots, old tires and discarded bottles or cans where stagnant water can collect and allow the insects to breed. (AP)
Thailand reports surge in dengue fever