The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urged the public yesterday to be alert for a potential dengue fever outbreak, saying that the dengue fever risk index is expected to climb in the wake of heavy rains and flooding in the south brought by Tropical Storm Kalmaegi.
The CDC advised local health authorities and the public to take measures to prevent an outbreak, such as cleaning gutters, drainage channels and water containers.
Twelve indigenous cases of dengue fever have been reported this year, all of them in Kaohsiung City, said Shih Wen-yi (施文儀), deputy director-general at the CDC.
Several areas in Tainan and Kaohsiung counties have been inundated because of the storm.
Shih said a dengue fever epidemic would not spread immediately after the typhoon, as the mosquitoes that carry the disease need some time to lay eggs, and warned the public to remain alert even after the storm passes.
“It may take a month to determine if the typhoon has caused an epidemic,” he said.
He said that cases had occurred earlier than usual this year, as the first reporting came on July 8.
Shih said that local health authorities would undertake necessary measures after the flooding recedes, such as disinfecting and cleaning gutters and drainage ditches, mosquitoes’ favored breeding grounds, to prevent an outbreak.
According to an official from the Kaohsiung City Health Department, the risk index for dengue fever in most areas of the city has surpassed the alarm line, meaning that the region should be on high alert for the disease.
The risk index of dengue fever is measured on a scale of one to 10 that represents the level of mosquito density and the threat of disease.
The last major outbreak of dengue fever in southern Taiwan was in 2002, when 21 people died, the CDC said.
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