A 78-year-old woman in Greater Kaohsiung’s Lingya District (苓雅區) has become the first dengue hemorrhagic fever fatality this year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
She died just six days after contracting the disease.
The CDC said the victim began to suffer from a fever, headache, sore knuckles, diarrhea and melena (black feces) on Monday last week, but didn’t go to see a doctor until Friday.
She was transferred to the emergency room of another hospital due to thrombocytopenia — having an abnormally low platlet count — and was hospitalized, and the case was reported as a suspected case of dengue fever that day.
Her status continued to worsen, leading to a sudden heart attack and coma, before she died on Saturday, the CDC said.
The centers said 21 cases of local dengue fever were confirmed last week, with most of the victims living in southern Taiwan, especially near Lingya District.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said that since four types of dengue fever have been found in southern Taiwan and that people living in the area, especially elderly people or people with chronic diseases, should be aware of the danger of dengue infection, because their risk of getting dengue hemorrhagic fever will be higher.
“According to statistics compiled by the center in past 10 years, the death rate for dengue hemorrhagic fever can be as high as 10 percent,” he said, adding that five people died of dengue hemorrhagic fever in Taiwan last year.
Chou said dengue prevention relies on the public maintaining a clean living environment, such as recycling waste containers to prevent mosquitoes breeding in still water, and taking precautionary measures against getting bitten by mosquitoes.