September 2014 – CHINA – Authorities in the southern province of Guangdong have pledged to improve efforts to control dengue fever, with around 5,000 cases reported so far this year. According to the Guangzhou Daily, more than 1,000 cases had been reported in the provincial capital alone as of September 4 – the highest number in almost a decade. “This year’s outbreak […] is the most serious in the past 10 years in Guangzhou,” Wang Ming, of the city’s disease prevention and control centre, told the Yangcheng Evening News. The outbreak began at the start of summer, with more than 400 cases reported in Guangzhou between June and August, compared to around 100 cases in the whole of last year, and fewer than 20 in 2012. At least 12 patients are reportedly in a critical condition, and two people suffering from the disease have died. In August, the city mobilized 800 workers to spray mosquito repellent every Friday afternoon and to distribute ignitable mosquito-eradication tablets to the public to be burned every evening. However, authorities have complained of residents’ reluctance to cooperate with the eradication efforts. They warn that if the outbreak is not brought under control in the coming weeks, Guangzhou may see over 10,000 cases this year.
Dengue fever, which is carried by mosquitoes, can cause a skin rash similar to measles, headaches, and muscle and joint pain. A small number of sufferers develop a life-threatening hemorrhagic fever, or dengue shock syndrome, in which blood pressure drops dangerously low. The World Health Organization estimates that dengue fever, for which there is no vaccine, infects between 50 and 100 million people every year worldwide. The disease is endemic in much of tropical Asia, infecting tens of thousands of people and killing hundreds each year. Authorities in Tokyo began spraying woodlands in the city with insecticide earlier this month after an outbreak in which at least 65 people were infected. The Centre for Health Protection under the Hong Kong Department of Health said it is closely monitoring the situation in Guangdong. Hongkongers returning from areas where dengue fever is prevalent should seek medical advice promptly if they are experiencing symptoms. –South China Morning Post