The Vientiane Health Department has urged media representatives to regularly inform the public about the danger of dengue fever and its prevention to make sure the information is passed on to people from all walks of life.

At a media meeting last Friday on dengue prevention, after more than 1,000 people had become infected with the virus since January this year, and 10 of those have died in Vientiane alone, the Director of the department, Dr Sengthong Birakoun, said “Using the media is a very important way to fight against this disease. However, it is necessary to regularly campaign and issue reminders, as once is not enough.”

The dengue infection rate in the capital has already reached six times the number of people infected in the same period last year.

Head of the Epidemiology Division of the Vientiane Health Department, Dr Chanthalay Sayavong, said this was a warning sign for medical staff and the general public to be prepared to fight against the virus.

“I think the number of dengue patients this year will be even higher than in 2010 when the hospitals in Vientiane were overwhelmed, if we do not have any measures in place to combat it,” he said.

In 2010, 4779 people were infected with the dengue virus in Vientiane alone, leading to five deaths. In addition, more than 20,000 people were infected with dengue fever nationwide, resulting in more than 40 fatalities.

Dr Sengthong said the Vientiane Health Department will not be able to fight dengue fever alone and needs the cooperation of everybody involved.

The department is calling on the private sector to participate in the campaign by asking them to put up notices on dengue prevention. This includes information on getting rid of mosquito larvae by clearing out the places where mosquitoes breed.

In addition, the department is using pick-up trucks and cars to visit crowded areas such as markets and bus stations, to explain about the dangers of dengue and how to avoid being infected by it.

In every community villagers are urged to join together on a weekly basis to clean out potential mosquito breeding areas, including pools of water in containers, puddles and ditches, and thinning out thick bushes. People are advised to cover any empty containers inside and outside their homes to prevent mosquitoes laying eggs. Water in flower vases should be changed regularly, not just topped up. Raising guppy fish to eat mosquito larvae is also encouraged.

Source: Vientiane Times
June 17, 2013