The rainy season appears to have arrived early this year and Dr Methipot Chatameteekul, director of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Communicable Disease Control Division, admits to being worried. Rain can increase the risks of an epidemic of the Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) virus and even though the public has learned that a “common” fever can lead to death, as occurred in the case of TV actor Trisdee “Por” Sahawong last year, there is still a need to raise awareness about dengue fever. Dr Methipot is also worried that the number of cases will be higher than last year. “The disease goes in a cycle, with major outbreaks occurring every two or three years. In 2015, we saw 50 new patients every day in each district. I am concerned that we will see a severe outbreak but hope it won’t be as severe as that of 2015,” he says.
The most recent report by the Public Health Ministry’s Department of Disease Control reports that as of May 9th, 9,717 cases had been registered and 14 individuals had died. The latest campaign organized by the BMA adopted a new approach to awareness raising. Rather than handing out leaflets and conducting a massive fumigation program, the administration organised three days of activities at CentralWorld on the theme “Fighting against Dengue”. Other preventive measures include wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts or using a mosquito repellent containing DEET when visiting places where dengue is endemic. Avoid areas with standing water and stay indoors in the morning until two hours after sunrise and at sunset to further reduce your risk of being bitten. Dengue fever was first identified in Thailand more than 50 years ago, first in Bangkok before spreading throughout the country. In the last 50 years, dengue has become endemic in 128 countries that are home to some 4 billion people About 75 percent of the infection occurs in Asia, and most of it in Southeast Asia.
According to WHO, more than 740 people around the world are infected by dengue every minute. Dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the Aedes aegypti species, better known in Thai as yung laai. They are most active in the daytime. According to Dr Methipot, the epidemic in Bangkok tends to soar from August to October. The latest severe epidemic was 2015 where Thailand reported 142,925 cases and 104 deaths. Symptoms starts with a high fever (about 40 degrees C) that persists for two to seven days and is accompanied by any two of the following symptoms: severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. Treatment is directed at relieving signs and symptoms. The dengue fever vaccine was approved by the Thai Food and Drugs Administration late last year and is now available at selected hospitals. However, it is out of reach for many Thais as the cost is more than 10,000 THB for the three injections. Efficacy is around 65.6 percent and is most viable for those aged nine to 45 years. The new vaccine is expected to protect against the four dengue strains found in Thailand Mrs.
Wiriya Yuyen, the chief officer of the disease prevention and control unit, the Division of Public Health and Environment of the Hua Hin Municipality, has visited Nong Kae Community with her staff and public health volunteers to launch a campaign about dengue prevention during the upcoming rainy season. The campaign primarily aims to raise the awareness of Nong Kae residents about the fatal consequences of dengue, the disease spread by aedes, a type of mosquito frequently found in the rainy season.
Abate is added to water containers to prevent mosquitos breeding Protection from dengue is involves turning over any unused bowls and basins, and cleaning them regularly so that Aedes cannot breed. Abate sand should be put in objects that contain still water to kill the mosquito larva. From April to June, the staff of disease prevention and control unit and the public health volunteers will visit local communities in Hua Hin as part of the campaign against dengue.