Following the confirmation of 49 new indigenous cases of dengue fever last week, the Centers for Disease Control yesterday said officials now expect the total number of infections in Taiwan to exceed 1,000 this year.
The figure set a record for the highest number of new cases in a single week this year. In the past week, 19 cases of migratory dengue were also confirmed, CDC Deputy Director Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.
To date, there have been 370 confirmed cases of dengue fever in Taiwan, most of which were concentrated in areas of Kaohsiung City and Tainan County, where the estimated number of mosquitoes carrying the virus has reached dangerous levels, officials said.
“There have been a lot of migratory cases. If these cases are not treated properly, the outbreak could be even more serious,” Chou said.
Chou said the highest incidence of dengue fever occurred in 2002, when 5,332 cases were reported. Officials were closely monitoring the situation and hoped this year’s outbreak would not reach such proportions. Still, it was not impossible that more than 1,000 cases could occur this year, health officials said.
The CDC urged households to maintain clean and dry environments, as mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus can easily proliferate where water has gathered in ditches, vases and other containers.
The authorities said they would step up efforts to warn residents against the risks of allowing water to gather and conduct inspections, as well as issue fines of between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000 to violators.
Health authorities said people who come down with a fever or experience drowsiness after being bitten by mosquitoes should seek medical treatment immediately, as these could be signs of serious illness.
Aside from dengue fever, the CDC was also keeping tabs on the spread of acute conjunctivitis — commonly known as red-eye syndrome — in eastern parts of the country.
Previously, the number of new cases had remained at low levels of between 10 and 20 per week, but recently, as many as 60 new cases have been reported every week.
Health officials were concerned that the outbreak may be linked to an increasing number of enterovirus infections.
Red-eye syndrome is a highly infectious disease that can be transmitted through eye secretions, for example, by touching one’s eyes without first washing one’s hands.
The incubation period is typically between 12 hours and 48 hours. Symptoms include eye irritation, a burning sensation in the eyes, excessive sensitivity to light, watering of the eyes, a feeling of foreign matter in the eyes and mucous eye discharge.