Fri, Dec 20, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Kaohsiung calls in military to combat spread of dengue

OUTBREAK Faced with a record number of cases of the disease, the city hopes that soldiers will be able to wipe out the breeding sites of mosquitoes that allow the virus to spread

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The military will carry out a comprehensive cleanup operation in Kaohsiung City prior to the Lunar New Year holiday in an effort to wipe out the breeding sites of dengue-carrying mosquitoes, deputy mayor Lin Yun-chien (林永堅) said yesterday.

Lin, Environmental Protection Administrator Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and military officials yesterday inspected residential areas in Tsoying District, which has been hit by the outbreak.

Hau presented the military and local environmental workers with the tools necessary to clean up the area and prevent the spread of the disease.

"The most effective way to limit the spread of dengue fever is to wipe out all breeding sites for the virus carrier," Hau said.

This year's dengue outbreak has broken the 1988 record of 4,389 confirmed cases.

As of yesterday, 5,121 confirmed cases had been reported nationwide, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Of these, 188 cases were the potentially fatal dengue hemorrhagic fever, which has killed 13 people this year.

About 97.3 percent of confirmed cases this year were reported from three jurisdictions in southern Taiwan, according to the CDC.

As of yesterday, Kaohsiung City, with a population of 1.5 million, accounted for 2,721 cases, while Kaohsiung County and Pingtung County have reported 1,926 cases and 337 cases respectively.

Despite the arrival of winter and earlier attempts to control the outbreak, the spread of dengue fever continues.

In Kaohsiung City, Tsoying is not the hardest hit area. The government has urged residents of several districts, including Chiencheng, Chichin, Sanmin and Lingya, to be on high alert for the disease.

In the four districts, environmental workers entered residents' homes to spread detergents and offer disease-prevention tips.

Governmental officials called on the public to keep the environment clean by drying out pools of stagnant water that provide breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that spread dengue.

"We will urge residents in the four districts to clean the environment thoroughly and we do need the military's assistance now," Lin said.

Beginning Nov. 21, the military was enlisted to fight the disease in Pingtung County, one of the hardest-hit parts of the country.

Military officials said yesterday that their assistance extend to other locations, including Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County, and would not cease until Jan. 15.

Yesterday, more than 50 soldiers helped local residents in Tsoying to clean fallen leaves and get rid of pools of water.

EPA head Hau, deputy mayor Lin and other officials also visited an unoccupied building yesterday, where a task force was spreading detergents.

Lin said the military is expected to help disinfect empty buildings and unoccupied apartments.

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