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Prep for the new killer
The Saigon Times Daily
Monday,  Aug 28, 2017,21:06 (GMT+7)

Prep for the new killer

The Saigon Times Daily

Dengue fever outbreaks across the country have worsened lately, with over 100,000 people nationwide infected with the disease so far this year. The disease, caused by a virus transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, is by no means strange in the country. However, what is abnormal in this year’s epidemic is the fast spread of the disease.

Hanoi City alone has seen some 20,000 dengue patients, comparable to the number in HCMC. Healthcare workers in the capital city these days have mobilized all forces and equipment to spray chemicals citywide to kill the mosquitoes.

Officials of the Ministry of Health during meetings in Hanoi last week admitted that the number of infections this year has risen by 50% year-on-year, and the death toll has hit 24. And it is fearsome that the epidemic has yet to peak, with around 500 new patients recorded each day in Hanoi alone.

Recent data also shows that the development of dengue has been accelerating over the years. In the January-July last year, according to the Health Ministry, the country also reported some 45,000 infection cases nationwide with 14 fatalities, which though lower than this year’s figure had shown a three-fold increase against the same period in 2015. That is to say the dengue fever has increased by seven times within a short span of two years.

Worse still, the dengue epidemic now is not confined to Vietnam, but is an issue of regional emergency. In Malaysia, for instance, the disease had killed as many as 122 people from 51,000 infection cases up to mid-August, while Thailand says the dengue fever in this country is the most severe in the past 20 years, with 136,000 people infected and 126 fatalities, news media from these two countries reported last week.

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health points to climate change as a factor behind the spike in the number of infection cases, which is a very serious reason to worry about for Vietnam, where climate change is deemed even more devastating.

As such, the common disease has now come with new fearful dimensions, from the scale of outbreaks, its faster-than-usual spread, and especially the impact of climate change, let alone the emergence of new types of dengue due to the mutation of the virus.

While regular measures such as spraying chemicals to kill the mosquitoes or fumigation efforts to wipe off their habitats are still necessary, it is high time the Ministry of Health and relevant agencies take a new approach with new solutions, including the development of new vaccines and biological applications to control the dengue fever. They should prepare for the worst, since the dengue fever is no longer a common disease. It might be a new killer as well. 

The Saigon Times Daily

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Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Pham Huu Chuong
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