Despite Spike in Region, Gov't Says Fewer Dengue Cases

February 24, 2005
Compiled from News Reports

The National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control said Wednesday that the number of cases of dengue fever appear to have been lower in January than in the same period last year. The claim comes despite reports that cases of the disease have in creased this year in Thailand and Malaysia.

"The total cases for January were 162 with two dead," said Huy Rekol, assistant to the head of the NMC's dengue department.

In 2004, he added, there were 9,943 cases with 153 dead.

Final numbers are not available for February.

The numbers reflect cases reported to public hospitals and do not reflect the unknown numbers of people who do not seek treatment in the public sector.

"Dengue season is from mid-May to October," Huy Rekol said, explaining that the January figures make up a small portion of yearly totals. "The January decrease came from lower numbers in Phnom Penh despite a small increase in Kandal province."
On Friday, Thai public health authorities issued statements urging Thais to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes after 1,500 Thais were found to have the disease during the first week of February.

"This is more than double the cases in the same period last year," a statement from the Thai Health Ministry said.
In Malaysia, dengue fever killed 13 people during a spike in January, prompting authorities to inspect 60,000 premises for mosquito breeding spots this month.

In a normal year, according to Ramlee Rahmat, director of the Malaysian Health Ministry's communicable disease control division, a total of 60 fatalities are recorded.

Dengue fever killed 120 people in Indonesia as of Feb 13.

The Indonesian Red Cross has declared that it has run out of several types of blood needed to treat the disease.
In some severe Dengue cases, blood transfusions are needed to help stop internal bleeding.

"Today we have no type A blood and only have five packs each of type B and type AB blood," said Marie Muhammed, chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross.

This year's outbreak of the disease in Indonesia, where the government has recorded 5,500 cases since January, is not expected to reach last year's severe outbreak in which 60,000 people were sickened and 669 people died.

Dengue, characterized by high fever, headaches, aching joints and skin rashes, is common in tropical areas and endemic to parts of Asia and the Caribbean. No vaccine is currently available.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 100 million people worldwide are infected with dengue each year. About 5 percent die.

(Reporting by Erik Wasson and The Associated Press)