VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Health authorities are encountering challenges in preventing outbreaks of dengue fever, amid an increasing number of cases.
The National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology has identified the dengue virus serotype 2 as the causative organism in 6,047 cases of dengue recorded this year, which have resulted in eight deaths.
From January to July 1, dengue infection rates recorded in Vientiane were higher than in any of the provinces, with 2,909 cases reported.
During the same period last year, no cases were reported in Vientiane, a health official said.
A report from the Centre stated that 623 cases were reported in Saravan province, 424 in Attapeu, and 545 in Xekong province.
An anonymous official from the Vientiane Health Department said increased public awareness was one of the main strategies in government efforts to lower the rate of dengue transmission.
He said Laos is facing an outbreak of the most virulent form of the dengue virus this rainy season and that, if people fall ill, they should suspect that dengue may be the cause and get a blood test as soon as possible.
In communities, the cooperation of local residents is necessary to clear mosquito breeding grounds. Families, village heads, associations, charities and monks are also important in the battle against the potentially fatal virus, the official said.
During the rainy season when dengue transmission rates tend to peak, health authorities are urging all households to throw out water that collects in jars, vases and dishes and then to cover them to prevent more water filling them.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in pools of stagnant water, so everyone is encouraged to clear the brush from around their homes and ensure that any empty containers are turned upside down so they don’t collect water. The water in flower vases should also be changed regularly.
There is also a need for vector surveillance in target provinces, to identify dengue transmission risk areas and monitor changes in mosquito density.
A senior official from the Sikhottabong health office said health authorities are concerned about the number of dengue fever cases this year and are taking steps to slow the spread of the virus. As the number of dengue infections continues to rise, health experts are meeting every Monday to discuss possible interventions to lower the number of cases.
Officials agree that raising public awareness about prevention methods is one of the main strategies in reducing transmission rates.