Dengue fever outbreak anticipated

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A woman with a mosquito painted on her face attends the dengue campaign ‘United Fight Against Dengue’ at a school in Phnom Penh. Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng on Monday warned people of the risks of dengue fever, saying there was a chance of a breakout in the Kingdom this year. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng on Monday appealed to the public to help prevent dengue fever, saying the disease is expected to break out this year.

He warned that people of all ages could contract dengue fever, which is caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads the disease by biting one person after another.

Bun Heng said dengue cases recorded in the country early this year showed a marked increase compared to the same period last year.

One of the factors causing dengue fever, he said, is climate change and the presence of the mosquito at homes and in public places.

“According to epidemiological analysis and the estimate of dengue fever conditions made by the World Health Organisation, dengue fever may break out again this year."

“The people and local authorities are required to execute the following measures to avert the outbreak of the disease in this year and next,” he said in a letter issued to health authorities.

The letter said the Aedes aegypti mosquito hatched its eggs in clear waters, it likes to live near people and flies not more than 150m from its habitat.

Within the first two to three days of a bite, patients may suffer acute illness followed by headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands, vomiting and rashes.

Dr Leang Rithy, the director of the National Dengue Disease Control Programme at the National Centre for Malaria, Pandemic and Entomology, could not be reached on Monday for further information.

However, Bun Heng’s letter seems to indicate that the ministry’s National Dengue Control Programme at the National Center for Malaria, Parasitology and Epidemiology has confirmed that mosquitoes hatching their eggs and breeding in old car and motorcycle tires were 11 times higher than in other water containers.

In early January, the letter said, the National Dengue Control Programme observed selected sites to study and monitor the mosquito situation in Phnom Penh during the dry season. The result indicated that almost all mosquitoes were of a different type from the Aedes aegypti.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Mam Bun Heng on Monday appealed for dengue prevention. Photo supplied

Bun Heng said that in order to prevent individuals from contracting dengue fever and to prevent an outbreak this year, counter-measures needed to be very effective.

He stressed: “I would like to appeal to and give instructions to all people to participate in eradicating the habitat of the mosquitoes by adhering to good habits of living: ‘I and my family members are models because my house and my accommodation have no mosquito larvae.’”

Parents or guardians, he said, must eradicate mosquito larvae from water containers and storage places such as water tanks, flower pots, pans, tables, jars, buckets, and more, while water must be changed regularly and such containers cleaned at least once a week and closed.

He called on the public to cooperate with health officers to fumigate mosquito breeding grounds. Other watery materials that were not used such as car or motorbike tires, crates or bottles, must be buried or destroyed so as not to accumulate water.

Bun Heng urged business owners involved in car and motorbike tires to ensure they do not accumulate water by disposing of them in an orderly manner.