Mon, Sep 14, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Combating the spread of dengue

By Steve Kuo 郭旭崧

Since an outbreak started in May, dengue fever has continued to spread in Tainan. More than 2,500 cases have been reported, four of which were fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) dispatched 4,000 government-funded dengue fever diagnostic reagents to Tainan and Kaohsiung for doctors to help contain the epidemic by enabling early diagnosis and ensuring early treatment of patients to minimize severe complications.

Preventive measures are urgently needed. In the past, measures primarily comprised of the removal and reduction of water containers and extermination of mosquitoes. When winter arrives and the temperature drops, dengue fever disappears.

However, due to global warming and climate change, average annual temperatures continue to rise year after year, and with the El Nino effect, mosquito larvae hatch at a faster pace. This is a global trend and Taiwan is no exception.

Although eliminating water containers is the best policy to combat dengue fever, new strategies and measures have been called for as outbreaks become more common. Dengue fever screening tests are the best solution.

Diagnosis can be difficult to make, because the typical symptoms are similar to those of other pandemics. Clinical diagnosis becomes even more difficult when atypical symptoms occur, so proper use of screening tests would facilitate early diagnosis.

The best time for testing is before the symptoms occur. For example, if you reside in or have been to an affected area and are suffering from fever, joint pains, back pains, muscle aches, pain behind the eyes, skin rash, fatigue or vomiting, you need to get yourself tested.

Dengue fever tests have become routine in Southeast Asian nations where the disease is common, and people are willing to pay for the tests. Early diagnosis can prevent complications from becoming too severe, and allows doctors to give proper and timely treatment.

If you have symptoms similar to those of dengue fever, please see a doctor as soon as possible, so that they can use the screening tests to make a speedy diagnosis, thereby treating the disease in time.

Steve Kuo is director-general of the Centers for Disease Control.

Translated by Ethan Zhan

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