The number of reported dengue fever infection cases in Laos is up this year as officials and medical staff across the country work harder to build public understanding about the dangers of this potentially deadly disease.
The Ministry of Health said more than 5,660 dengue fever infections and 10 deaths have been reported so far this year.
An anonymous official from the ministry’s National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology admitted that authorities had concerns about the challenge of preventing dengue fever given the elevated case numbers this year.
Recent year-to-date figures show that the capital has recorded the most dengue fever infections with 1,313 and four deaths followed by Borikhamxay province with 669 cases and two deaths, Vientiane province 599 infections, Bokeo 558 and Savannakhet province with 533 cases.
Luang Namtha province has recorded 374 infections, Luang Prabang 309, Khammoun 308 cases and one death, Saravan 292, Attapeu (which borders Cambodia’s Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri provinces) 291 and Xayaboury 174 cases and one death.
Oudomxay province has logged 73 infections, Sekong 81, Xaysomboun 53, Champasak (which borders Cambodia’s Preah Vihear and Stung Treng provinces) 27 and Phongsaly province nine cases.
The official said some communities still had difficulty in accessing information about dengue fever, and this was one of the reasons for the continuing high number of cases reported around the country.
Therefore, village heads, associations, charities and monks have a vital role in the battle against dengue fever, the official added. Local communities need to keep their surroundings clean while focusing on killing mosquitoes and their larva inside and near these areas.
Authorities have been raising public awareness as one of the main strategies to reduce the risk of dengue transmission, the official explained.
Local officials and health authorities are now engaged and urging people to clear potential mosquito breeding sites around their homes and workplaces to help curb the spread of the virus.
Teams are visiting communities to disseminate information, with the activities focused on long-term prevention rather than solely treatment.
The ministry reported that five simple measures are advised as being the most effective method of dengue control which being practised by households across the region.
These measures are closing and sealing all unused containers, flushing out all water vessels, placing small guppy fish in water jars as these eat mosquito larvae, cleaning areas around homes, and, finally, remembering to do these four tasks each week.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK