Dengue cases in sharp decline

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Ministry of Health report released on Wednesday revealed that dengue fever cases have decreased by about 88 per cent in the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year. Hong Menea

A Ministry of Health report released on Wednesday revealed that dengue fever cases have decreased by about 88 per cent in the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year.

The ministry said the dengue fever situation is normal but people must still take precautions to avoid contracting the mosquito-borne disease.

The report said there have been 3,339 recorded cases of dengue fever in the Kingdom this year, with four deaths reported.

In the first six months of last year, there were 28,285 cases of dengue fever reported, with 32 deaths.

The ministry said the cases were scattered throughout the country, with Preah Sihanouk, Pailin, Siem Reap, Kandal, Kampong Thom, Takeo, Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri and Preah Vihear provinces being the worst hit along with Phnom Penh.

“The conclusion at this time is that the dengue fever situation in Cambodia is normal thanks to the management of the dengue control programme implemented across the country,” the report said.

Last year, Cambodia suffered one of the worst dengue fever outbreaks in recent memory. There were 68,597 cases reported and 48 deaths, representing a three-fold increase from 2018. The report said a severe outbreak typically occurs every six to seven years.

This year, the health ministry has prepared more than 250 tonnes of Abate larvicide, more than 6,000 litres of mosquito repellent and nearly 100,000 vials of serum.

According to the report, the ministry has reminded all citizens to be proactive in eliminating the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which cause dengue fever.

The mosquitoes lay their eggs anywhere stagnant water collects, such as in motor vehicle tyres and discarded drink containers. The ministry said people should clean their homes, sleep under mosquito nets and wear long sleeves clothes.

Citizens must also seek medical attention promptly if they are suffering from symptoms of dengue fever, which include nausea, vomiting, headaches and joint pain.

The report said people with fever should not self-treat themselves and should seek professional treatment instead to avoid harm.

Leang Rithea, the dengue control programme manager at the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control of the Ministry of Health could not be reached for comment.

Ngy Mean Heng, the director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department, said in the first six months of the year, the number of dengue fever patients in Phnom Penh decreased by about five times compared to last year.

Two deaths were reported during the same timeframe in the capital last year, while this year, there have been no deaths.

He said in Phnom Penh, most dengue fever cases were in Chaom Chao, Stung Meanchey 1, Stung Meanchey 2 and Stung Meanchey 3 communes – areas with large Aedes aegypti mosquito populations.

Mean Heng said destroying the mosquitoes’ habitats would decrease the number of dengue fever cases. Anywhere clean water can collect and pool is considered a prime target for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

He said large banners imploring citizens to destroy Aedes aegypti mosquito habitats are displayed in front of all health centres and referral hospitals.

“As long as people walk through the health centres they can learn about preventive care, but they refuse to practice it. Allowing mosquito to shelter will increase the chances of dengue fever spreading. If there were no mosquito shelters, there would be no dengue fever,” he stressed.

Mean Heng said Japan hardly had any cases of dengue fever as there were no mosquito shelters since they dispose of their rubbish well.

“Aedes aegypti mosquitoes lay eggs in clean water. They live in discarded motor vehicle tyres, plastic bags, water bottles and beer and juice cans. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes do not lay their eggs in sewage,” he said.

Dengue fever cases, Mean Heng said, usually occur during the rainy season from May to October while outbreaks can last until November or December.