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May 31, 2020

With rains at our doorstep, we must be vigilant against dengue fever

  • Myanmar has been experiencing outbreaks of dengue fever more frequently, especially during the rainy season, with fewer gaps in between cases. Dengue cases are no longer limited to the monsoons, but have been reported round the year in the past five years.
    The main reasons behind this are climate change and higher breeding rates of the Aedes mosquitoes, according to experts. Another reason for the rising incidence of dengue is the tendency of Myanmar people to store water, contributing to the breeding of mosquitoes.
    Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children, and adults, but seldom causes death. Cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) are likely to increase in Kayin State this year compared with last year, according to a state-level DHF prevention seminar, held recently at the Kayin State Public Health Department.
    According to official statistics, 935 people contracted dengue hemorrhagic fever in 2018 in Kayin State, which resulted in one death. DHF broke out mostly in Hpa-an Township, and spread to other towns and villages. The outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever was reported mainly in June, July, and August.
    In fact, infections are found year-round in Myanmar, necessitating year-round monitoring.
    Infection rates usually spike in the rainy season, especially in July and August. Dengue is a public health challenge, especially in the rainy season. Given the number of cases across the country, we must focus on preventive measures. The number of infections is higher, but the death rate is lower than a decade ago.
    Community participation is crucial in controlling the breeding of mosquito larvae.
    Food containers and bottles that are not disposed of properly can fill with rain water and help mosquitoes breed. Mosquitoes thrive in areas with stagnant water, including puddles, water tanks, containers, and old tires. Lack of reliable sanitation and regular garbage collection also contribute to the spread of mosquitoes.
    Severe dengue can lead to potentially deadly complications caused by plasma leakage, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or organ impairment.
    People should be well informed about all preventive measures, especially for children. At schools, the administration must keep swimming pools clean and keep them appropriately chlorinated. School kids must wear full sleeves during peak dengue season.
    Local authorities and health officials are advised to be ready for helping treat the disease and train volunteers on fumigating potential breeding sites, and spread the message to communities about dengue prevention. The most effective way to prevent the disease is public participation in preventive measures against the disease. We must remain vigilant in our efforts.

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