A severe, months-long outbreak of dengue fever, which has been particularly deadly this year claiming the lives of more than 375 people, may finally be letting up, health officials said Sept 11.
Ngan Chantha, the Health Ministry’s dengue program manager, said that cases of dengue are still higher than previous years but the situation improved by about 60 to 70 percent in August, an improvement he attributed to government outreach efforts.
According to Ngan Chantha, there have been 35,013 cases of dengue reported by government hospitals to date, resulting in 376 deaths.
In all of 2006, there were 158 deaths from the mosquito borne virus, he said.
Dr Beat Richner, whose four Kantha Bopha hospitals see the majority of the country’s dengue cases, said that while the intensity of the situation is diminishing, he does not foresee an end to the high number of cases this year.
“It will not go away,” Richner said, estimating that there will be a minimum of 20 new cases per day through to December.
Currently, his hospitals see 50 new cases of severe dengue each day, down from highs of 200 a day during the outbreak’s peak in June, he said.
Richner said that government prevention had nothing to do with the decline, which he said is following the normal, four month-long trajectory of an outbreak.
World Health Organization vector control scientist Chang Mohseng said the government’s efforts, in conjunction with NGOs, WHO and the UN, did help contain the outbreak.
He emphasized, however, that insecticides and abate cannot prevent a dengue outbreak alone.
“We need a better, long-term education program…. Don’t wait until the peak season,” he said.