Macau at high risk of dengue outbreak this year: health official


 
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Issue 298, Page 4
Word count: 510
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Dengue fever might this year develop into an epidemic in Macau according to the rising numbers of inflections both in the SAR and the neighbouring regions, said top official from the Health Bureau (SSM) yesterday.

The opening ceremony of this year’s program to combat the fever was staged at the Flower Garden in Taipa at 4.30 pm yesterday.

According to vice-director of SSM, doctor Cheang Seng Ip, the condition of the disease this year was “not optimistic” and Macau was at a high risk of experiencing a dengue outbreak during the period between June and August.

The carriers of the fever – the Aedes egypti mosquitoes – are common in tropical climates and will transfer the disease between humans.

Doctor Cheang said the number of these mosquitoes being detected in Macau had been increasing since 2006 and the situation of neighbouring regions in South East Asia where the fever was prevalent was severe this year.

“As for Macau, there will be a high possibility for an outbreak,” he added.

There were 14 reported cases in the SAR last year which jumped from two in 2006.

Of them, only one local resident came down with the disease who worked in the gardening and park division of the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), while eight were imported labourers from Hong Kong and the mainland, and five were tourists from Vietnam, Burma and the Philippines.

Apart from the tourists, the other nine were infected with the fever inside Macau and worked in outdoor environment in the islands of Taipa or Coloane.

In 2005 no dengue fever case was reported and in 2004 there were two.

“The islands remain more prone to the disease because of the higher numbers of construction sites, wet lands and plants,” doctor Cheang said.

Although Fai Chi Kei in the peninsula was once vulnerable to the fever, he said the frequent cleaning work conducted by government departments had significantly improved the condition.

He urged the public yesterday to be well-prepared for the dengue high season and to adopt preventative measures before and during the rainy season which include avoiding any areas of still water especially neglected water containers or pot plant holders at home and protecting themselves from being bite by mosquitoes when travelling to dengue fever-prone places.

At the end of 2001, Macau saw its first dengue outbreak in which a total of 1,418 cases were reported within two months.
Deputy president of IACM, Cheung So Mui, said dengue fever was an “endemic disease” in Asian regions and had long existed in South East Asian nations.

Over the past seven year, Ms Cheung said the SAR government had been progressively carrying out preventative and promotional measures in a bid to avoid another large-scale outbreak from happening.

For example, IACM and SSM have been collaborating to remove garbage and still water on local hygiene black spots so that ideal breeding spots for the insects cannot be formed.

Meanwhile, Ms Cheung added that residents should also start the hygienic works at home in order to comprehensively remove breeding sources.

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