Hà Nội’s dengue-weather link

June 15, 2017 - 09:00

Nguyễn Nhật Cảm, director of the Hà Nội Preventive Medicine Centre, speaks to the Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economic and Urban Affairs) newspaper about the main causes of the dengue fever outbreak in the city and how to prevent it.

Nguyễn Nhật Cảm

Nguyễn Nhật Cảm, director of the Hà Nội Preventive Medicine Centre, speaks to the Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economic and Urban Affairs) newspaper about the main causes of the dengue fever outbreak in the city and how to prevent it.

What is the current situation of dengue fever outbreak in Hà Nội?

Statistics from the Hà Nội health department show that 1,281 cases of dengue fever were recorded in the city by June 4, 2.6 times more than the same period last year.

It is reported a patient from Trung Liệt Ward, Đống Đa Precinct died. Five inner city districts have recorded a high number of dengue cases: Đống Đa (372 cases), Hoàng Mai (253 cases), Thanh Xuân (84 cases), Hà Đông (77 cases) and Hai Bà Trưng (11 cases).

Dengue fever was detected in the first five months of 2017. However, since mid April, the number of reported cases has increased considerably, particularly in the last few weeks due the heat and heavy rains.

What are the main causes leading to this situation?

Right at the onset of 2017, we issued a warning about the possibility of a dengue outbreak due to heat and heavy rains caused by harsh El Nino weather. That’s why we’ve already worked out preventive measures against the dengue outbreak.

As we all know, fast-changing weather provides favourable conditions for an outbreak of dengue fever, which is caused by any one of the four dengue viruses spread by mosquitoes that thrive in and near human lodgings. We also know that March is prime time for the mosquito breeding cycle. Last May, An Khánh, Phú Lương, La Phù, Dương Nội, Hoàng Liệt, Trương Định, Láng Thượng and some others recorded the peak mosquitoes breeding cycle time.

It is forecast that from now till late 2017, dengue fever cases will continue to rise.

What are the challenges Hà Nội must overcome to control the spread of dengue fever?

Right from the onset of 2017, Hà Nội initiated various plans to prevent the spread of dengue fever in the city. We have organised training courses for people working in mass communication activities to raise people’s awareness on how to prevent dengue fever. Meanwhile, we have also sprayed chemicals to kill mosquito larva. In addition, we have also asked all health units in the city to be proactive in their surveillance to detect as soon as possible any suspected cases of dengue fever patients and stamp out the suspected outbreak immediately. All healthcare units are ordered to have sufficient drugs, chemicals and others to prepare and give treatments right in their health units.

However, I have to say that the situation remains very complicated, and there is no sign of decreasing the outbreak.

Besides the fast-changing weather, we should mention the subjective causes. For example, local authorities in many localities have not paid due attention to preventive activities or the fight against the outbreak when it happens. In addition, people’s awareness about the danger of dengue fever remains low. For example, when health workers launched the campaign to spray chemicals to kill mosquitos, many households refused to open their doors to let them in. For certain families, they don’t cover water containers in their garden to prevent Anopheles mosquito from breeding.

Do you have any recommendations to the general public?

We have urged the people to have covers on all water containers to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. We have also asked people to put fish in water tanks to kill larvae. In addition, we also advise people to clean the water tanks or water containers regularly.

In addition, we also advise people to sleep in the mosquito nets and even put on long sleeve shirts during the season to prevent mosquito bites. I’m sorry to say, but by now we do not have any malaria vaccines or special treatment medicine for malaria.

We also advise people that when they have high fever continuously for several days with symptoms of exhaustion, headache, muscle pains, sore throat, diarrhea and vomit, they should visit the doctors immediately for consultation and follow their treatment flow charts.--VNS