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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Dengue fever warning around Koh Samui

According to the Samui Times, today a public information truck was driving around the island giving out a long message in Thai. We missed the truck since I was visiting the Immigration office to extend my yearly visa.

The truck was supposedly from the health service and is asking island residents to take preventative measures against the spread of dengue fever that is now a huge problem on the island.

In July the Bangkok Post already warned for a dengue epidemic, numbers already being three times higher compared to last year and The Wall Street Journal, Asia edition in August mentioned a three fold death toll this year alone in Thailand compared to last year.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

 Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carry the virus that causes dengue fever

The message transmitted today asked residents of Koh Samui to make sure there's no standing water around your houses since this standing water can quickly become a breeding ground for  the mosquitoes that spread this disease.

If you have any standing pots of water please cover them and check your house and outdoor plants to ensure they are not sitting in a pool of water in the saucer underneath.

If you have plants that grow in tubs of water then please either buy some fish to live in the water that will eat the mosquito eggs or buy some fertilizer to put into the water that will prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs there.

Please check around your house for any stagnant water or still water and either pour it away, cover it or put fish in it.

From the Bumrungrad Hospital website;

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carry the virus that causes dengue fever, and they infect 50 million people a year, including 500,000 serious cases requiring hospitalization. (source: WHO)

Transmission: Virus-carrying mosquitoes breed in clear water and are usually found in and around housing developments in urban areas. They are most active in the daytime. The virus can only be transmitted from mosquito to human; it is not passed from one person to another.

Symptoms: Once a person is bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito, symptoms only appear after an incubation period of three to 15 days (5 to 8 days in most cases). Dengue fever’s most common symptoms include:

  • Sudden chills and pain around the eyes;
  • High fever, up to 104° F / 40° C;
  • Headaches, muscle pain and neck pain;
  • Unexplained lethargy, loss of appetite;
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea;
  • Skin rash that usual starts around the abdomen and upper torso.

The high fever and other symptoms usually persist for two to four days and are followed by a rapid drop in temperature and profuse sweating. Next, a temporary respite usually lasting about a day brings a feeling of well-being as body temperature returns to normal. That’s followed by a second round of fast-rising fever accompanied by a rash which spreads from the extremities until it covers the full body except the face. Some patients suffer swelling and redness on the palms and soles of their feet.

Treating dengue:  There is no specific treatment for dengue fever, but it’s important to see your doctor if you develop dengue-like symptoms. In mild cases, doctors usually recommend patients drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, take Tylenol or acetaminophen to relieve pain and reduce fever, and be sure to get plenty of rest.

More severe dengue cases require hospital admission. Patients usually undergo intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement, blood pressure monitoring, and in some cases patients may require transfusions to replace lost blood.

Less than 1% of dengue cases are fatal. The acute phase of the illness marked by fever and muscle pain lasts about one to two weeks. Patients usually feel quite weak, and full recovery can take several weeks.

Prevention tips:  Since the virus is transmitted mosquito-to-human, prevention entails both controlling and eradicating mosquitoes and taking action to protect oneself from being bitten.It’s important to empty standing water from places mosquitoes breed such as discarded old tires, trash cans and flower pots.

Wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts helps guard against mosquito bites, and consider using a mosquito repellent containing DEET when visiting places where dengue is endemic. Avoid areas with standing water and stay indoors in the morning until two hours after sunrise and at sunset to further reduce your risk of being bitten, although nowadays it's also thought the the Dengue mosquitoes also are at work during the night time.

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My Thai Golf said...

Excellent advice about Dengue. Coming to KS soon so will certainly take heed.

Andrea said...

Hello Camille! My husband and I will be traveling to Koh Samui with our 4 year old and I was a little worried about Dengue after reading things about it on the internet. Is it still a concern there? We are coming there in two weeks. Thank you!

Camille said...

Hi Andrea,

Dengue fever is (still) around, it looks like I had a minor bout myself recently.
As long as you take care of day time mosquito's, you should be fine.

Andrea said...

Thank you for getting back to me. I hope you are feeling better. I purchased mosquito spray that contains deet and plan on definitely using it on all of us during daytime hours. I just hope it works!!!

Camille said...

Hi Andrea,

Fingers crossed and I hope you enjoy your stay on Samui nonetheless!