There have been 303 imported cases of dengue fever this year, the highest number in a decade, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
Seventeen imported cases were confirmed last week, bringing the total since last month to 107 as of Monday, Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍) said.
People who were confirmed to have dengue in the past month were mostly infected in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, and more than 90 percent of the cases confirmed this year came from infections picked up in Southeast Asian countries, she said.
This is peak transmission season for dengue fever in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Laos, Maldives, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and Indonesia, and the CDC has issued a level 1 travel advisory for these nations, as well as Myanmar and India, she said.
The Philippines last week declared a national dengue epidemic, after at least 622 people died of the mosquito-borne disease since January. It has recorded 146,062 cases this year as of July 20.
The El Nino effect last month intensified extreme weather and high temperatures, so the dengue situation in Southeast Asia is more serious than in the past few years, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said.
As summer is high season for travel, a significant increase in the number of cases has been seen since last month, Chuang said.
There have also been 30 imported cases of Chikungunya fever this year, the highest for the same period since 2007, he said, adding that most of the patients were also infected in Southeast Asia.
Chuang urged people who are traveling to countries where the two mosquito-borne diseases are spreading to wear brightly colored long-sleeve clothing, apply insect repellent, stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens or mosquito nets to avoid mosquito bites.
In other health news, the CDC said that a serious case of enterovirus complication was confirmed last week in a two-year-old boy living in central Taiwan.
The boy has since recovered and been discharged from hospital, the agency said.
The boy late last month developed a fever and oral ulcers, prompting his family to seek treatment, CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said.
He later developed weakness in the limbs and low vitality, and was diagnosed with coxsackievirus A10 infection and acute flaccid paralysis, Lin said.
Among the 26 cases of serious enterovirus complications confirmed this year, 19 were in children under five, he said.
Adults and children should wash their hands frequently with soap, maintain good personal hygiene and indoor air ventilation to reduce the risk of enterovirus infection, Lin said.
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