Health: Thai health officials have reported an outbreak of dengue fever, with 10,446 cases reported between 01 January and 15 May 2018, with around 34 per cent of cases occurred in those between 10 and 24 years of age. 77 provinces have reported at least one case and a total of 15 fatalities have been reported. The highest morbidity rate has been recorded in Phuket, followed by Krabi and Nakornsrithamarat.
What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue is a viral infection spread by mosquito bites and is a leading cause of illness and death in tropical and subtropical regions. Approximately 400 million people globally are infected each year. The disease is caused by one of four related viruses (dengue 1, 2, 3, 4). The illness is most common during the rainy season when infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus female mosquitoes are prevalent. These mosquitoes prosper in areas where standing water (including puddles and open water tanks) is present and usually bite from dawn until dusk, most commonly early in the morning or evening. Lack of reliable sanitation and regular garbage collection also contribute to the spread of the mosquitoes. Dengue is not spread from person to person.
Dengue infection does not guarantee lifelong immunity from the illness. There is no specific treatment and a vaccination is only recommended by the World Health Organisation in an area where dengue is endemic. Travellers who are most at risk are generally aid workers and those on long-term assignments.
Symptoms begin three to 14 days after a bite from an infection and can include:
- A fever which may reach higher than 40oC
- A severe headache/migraine
- Eye, joint, and muscle pain
- Feeling or being sick and a loss of appetite
- A red rash
Symptoms are usually resolved within one to two weeks and many people may show few to no symptoms at all. However, for a small number of people, symptoms can develop into dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF). This serious illness is characterised by internal or external bleeding. Without proper treatment, DHF can be fatal due to very low blood pressure; children are most at risk from this complication.
The Thai Department of Disease Control (DDC) predicts that the current outbreak will continue to grow. Thailand is set to go through a period of hot and wet weather which aids mosquito breeding. The DDC has launched an education campaign to help the Thai populous to defend against mosquito breeding.