Public Health Ministry worried about possible dengue epidemic after Songkran

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BANGKOK, 8 April 2013  The Public Health Ministry is worried that the country may be hit by a dengue virus epidemic after the Songkran celebrations are over. 

Deputy Permanent Secretary for Public Health Dr. Sopon Mekthon, as the chair of the ministry’s anti-dengue war room, said on Sunday that, during the past 2 weeks, there have been around 2,000 more dengue patients reported across the country.

He said the latest records show a slight decline from the months before, highly likely because of the summer school break.

From January to March, a total of 17,960 people were diagnosed with dengue virus while 20 were killed by it, according to the Public Health Ministry.

Dr. Sopon stated the number of dengue victims, since the beginning of the year, have been three times higher than the same time of last year.

He added that the risk of dengue infection is now at home and that a regular removal of mosquito-breeding sites is needed, possibly every 5-7 days, in order to prevent possible spread of the virus.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary for Public Health went on to say that an official survey of 300,000 households in 32 provinces found every 1 in 4 witnessed mosquito presence, showing a large number of people are still neglecting the danger of dengue.

Dr. Sopon said the Public Health Ministry will continue to focus on destroying mosquito-breeding sites and encouraging the public to use lemongrass as non-chemical repellent.

However, he noted that there may be a dengue epidemic after the annual Songkran festival, during which people who are carriers may unknowingly spread the virus while traveling back to their hometowns or on holidays.