In the wake of a relentless surge in dengue fever cases, the Disease Control Department (DCD) has issued a stark warning, urging the public to take precautions against mosquito bites. Thailand, grappling with a staggering 200% increase in infections this year, finds itself at the epicenter of a growing global health concern. According to the World Health Organization, 4.2 million cases were reported worldwide in 2022, marking an alarming eightfold rise since 2000.
Experts point to the El Nino weather pattern as a potential contributor, citing elevated sea surface temperatures off the coast of Peru. This climatic phenomenon is believed to have fueled the conditions conducive to the record-breaking surge in dengue infections this year.
A recent survey commissioned by the Thai government revealed a startling revelation – religious facilities, predominantly Buddhist temples, are identified as the primary mosquito infestation spots in the country. This poses a significant challenge as these places are often frequented by the public, potentially exacerbating the spread of the disease.
As the situation reaches a critical point, with over 8,000 confirmed cases and 13 fatalities, the urgency for immediate attention cannot be overstated. Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn, the Director-General of the DCD, presented disconcerting statistics, indicating a worrisome 91.25% surge in dengue cases compared to the same period last year. The month of January alone witnessed a distressing 8,197 diagnoses, painting a grim picture of the escalating crisis.
“Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral infection prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions, poses a grave threat,” warned Thongchai. The disease, transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, manifests in symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, joint pain, and nausea.
Highlighting the vulnerability of children aged five to 14, Thongchai emphasized that most cases are clustered in southern and central provinces, raising significant concerns. Tragically, fatalities spanned 11 provinces, with the eldest victim aged 65.
In response to the escalating crisis, Thongchai stressed the imperative for hospitals treating dengue patients to distribute mosquito repellents to safeguard other patients. Furthermore, he urged vigilance among communities, advocating immediate medical attention for those exhibiting symptoms. As officials and health experts grapple with the severity of the outbreak, concerted efforts are underway to curb the spread of dengue fever and protect the public from this growing health threat.