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Make dengue control your regular routine

At least twice a day, the Vientiane Health Department sprays insecticide in local communities to prevent dengue fever outbreaks in the wet season.

This is one of many rapid response measures by the department to control the dengue virus in its early stages. The goal is to reduce the population of adult dengue-carrying mosquitoes in communities where the disease has been reported.

Emptying water containers and brushing the insides helps to get rid of mosquito larvae and does not negatively impact human health. –Photos the Centre of Information and Education for Health

This measure is expected to be effective, with dengue cases slowly decreasing compared to the 2013 dengue outbreak when almost 40,000 people were infected, resulting in 95 deaths.

Epidemiologists say there could be a dengue fever outbreak this year, but the situation is currently under control in Vientiane as well as in the rest of the country.

Director of the Vientiane Health Department and an epidemiologist, Dr Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, said if there were any reports of dengue, staff would visit the area and consider using chemical spray to kill adult dengue mosquitoes.

“Mobile teams will go to a community where dengue has been reported and spray every day if they find that many people there have contracted the virus,” he said.

This measure is different from the practice employed during the 2013 outbreak. This time around, staff will immediately use chemical spray in communities where at least two dengue cases have been recorded in one place.

During the 2013 dengue outbreak, medical staff visited dengue infected communities once a week after receiving reports of an infection.

“But that system was inadequate and we would not do it again,” Dr Phonepaseuth said.

Today's method is very helpful in keeping dengue at bay. Every day, health offices in the capital's nine districts update the Vientiane Health Department about the current situation in their local communities.

Department staff then discuss whether to spray insecticide. But Dr Phonepaseuth said using insecticide was not sustainable or a healthy way to combat dengue fever. This is because the spray kills only adult mosquitoes, but larvae living in water containers, old tins, coconut shells and old tyres where stagnant water lies can survive the spray.

The lar vae then become adult mosquitoes and transmit the dengue virus among humans. Additionally, the spraying of chemicals can negatively affect the health of nearby humans and animals.

For this reason, the ‘5 Por' measures are the most effective method of dengue control. These measures are being practised in Laos and other Asean countries and in other places where dengue is prevalent.

These measures consist of closing and sealing all containers, flushing all water vessels, placing guppy fish in wat er pots as these eat mosquito larva e, cleaning areas surrounding residences and, finally, remembering to do the first four tasks re gularly.

Dr Phonepaseuth said he wanted the public to make these measures a habit as part of their weekly routine.

These measures have also been relayed to the Vientiane Education and Sports Department, which passes them on and explains them to primary and secondary school principals. School heads are thus kept informed of the dangers of dengue fever and about preventive measures. Principals then explain the measures to students, who are expected to carry them out at home.

Even though the Vientiane Health Department is working hard through many channels to control dengue, the virus has sickened a considerable number of people this year.

So far in 2017, the department has recorded 2,423 cases, resulting in two deaths in Vientiane alone. A total of 7,785 people have contracted dengue nationwide, resulting in 10 deaths throughout the country.

Dr Phonepaseuth said full cooperation by the public was needed to wipe out the breeding sources of dengue mosquitoes and gradually reduce the dengue mosquito population.

“If there are no larvae, there will be no mosquitoes. If there are no mosquitoes, we will not have dengue fever,” he said.

If the incidence of dengue fever can be significantly lowered or even eradicated, people will be healthy and will have more time to contribute to national development.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update September 12, 2017)

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