The number of new indigenous cases of dengue fever in the country soared to 18 during the past week, setting the record for the highest number of new cases in a single week this year and increasing the risk it could develop into an epidemic, the Department of Health said.
The department’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said that in the past week, 13 people in Kaohsiung City, four in Tainan County and one in Taipei City were diagnosed with dengue fever. This is the first incidence of indigenous dengue fever in Taipei City this year.
“We are especially concerned about cluster infections in certain communities in Kaohsiung, where several reported cases of dengue fever originated in neighborhoods that are as close as 200m,” CDC deputy director-general Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.
In addition to indigenous cases, there were 12 cases of migratory dengue fever, cases that originated outside Taiwan’s borders, bringing the count to 142 so far this year, the CDC added.
Chou said the CDC is working with local governments to keep the spread of the disease under control, but emphasized that individuals must be on the lookout and keep living environments clean and dry to protect their own health.
The deputy director said it is especially important to empty water that may pool in containers and ditches around households, because mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus could proliferate in such conditions, leading to outbreaks.
Mosquitoes also multiply during the hot, humid summer months, which can contribute to a surge in cases of dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis.
Authorities said that because of the heightened risk that the disease could become widespread, officials would step up efforts to warn residents and conduct inspections, as well as issue fines of between NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 (US$468) when they find violators.
Health authorities said people who come down with a fever or experience drowsiness after being bitten by mosquitoes should seek medical treatment immediately, because these could be signs of serious illness.
Dengue fever is transmitted via the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The disease’s incubation period is between two and 15 days, with symptoms including high fever, severe headaches, retro-orbital pain, severe joint pain, muscle ache, general weakness, nausea, vomiting and a rash.