By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Macau has entered the high-risk season for dengue fever and the health authority warned that it could become an epidemic if people do not take the necessary precautions against the transmission.
According to acting deputy director of the Health Bureau (SSM) Ip Peng Kei, the warm and wet weather between April and September every year provides an “ideal environment” for aedes albopictus, a species of mosquito which is the main vector for the transmission of this infectious tropical disease.
As of May 26 this year, Macau reported two imported cases of dengue fever. There were four and six imported cases respectively in 2009 and 2010. No local deaths have been reported so far.
Although the number of cases found in the city remained quite low in recent years, Ip said the bureau could not predict the situation for 2011, adding that the disease still posed a challenge to South East Asia last year.
He has urged locals to eliminate the vector’s habitats by emptying containers of water at least once a week, reduce open collections of water as well as to keep good personal and environmental hygiene.
Mosquito bites can also be prevented by wearing clothing that fully covers the skin, and/or applying insect repellent when travelling to places where dengue fever is prevalent, he added.
“If locals relax on prevention, don’t pay attention to the habitats inside and outside of their homes and lack awareness of protecting themselves from mosquito bites, a dengue fever outbreak could occur in Macau,” the SSM official warned.
The statistics provided by the SSM showed that the highest numbers of deaths caused by dengue fever in South East Asia were reported in the Philippines. As of May 28, 150 Filipinos lost their lives and 24,570 cases were reported.
Sri Lanka also had 69 deaths, Malaysia 14 and Vietnam 8, with thousands of cases of dengue fever recorded in each country.
Hong Kong and Taiwan had no reported deaths but 8 imported and 15 local cases were recorded this year.
To enhance public awareness and encourage locals to take precautions, two outdoor large-scale events were scheduled on June 15 and September 17. Residents, after eliminating mosquito habitats can also take part in the lucky draw campaign every Saturday between June 25 and November 19 by calling 28823232.