With the number of dengue cases in Thailand this year projected to break records, health experts say a whole-of-society approach is what’s needed to help control the surge.
Piecemeal strategies such as fogging or mosquitoes with Wolbachia are not enough to stem an outbreak.
Already this year, there have been 59 deaths due to dengue logged since January 1 to September 9, compared with 56 deaths for the whole of last year. During the same period, there were 82,485 cases, compared with the 66,102 cases in 2022. In some areas the number of cases has increase three-fold, along with the death rate.
South East Asia has been declared the region with the greatest risk of contracting dengue by the World Health Organisation. Instances of Dengue are on the rise but YOU can control most of the risk factors. Even as we enter into the last few months of the wet season in Thailand for 2022, we’d urge you to keep alert to the possible dangers of mosquitoes.
There are many. easy precautions you can make to avoid being bitten.
The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is also known as the ‘tiger mosquito’ with the distinctive black and white stripes. They most frequently bite at sunrise and sunset but this species also bites during the day. But you’re only at risk if the actual mosquito is carrying the Dengue virus. They don’t carry a big sign if they do, so assume all mosquitoes need be kept away from you!
Conservatively, at least 50 million people contract Dengue each year and Dengue is thought to cause around 20,000 deaths per year around the world. Dengue fever can take around a week to incubate after you’ve been bitten. Then you might start with a measle-like rash followed by a fever and lack of energy.
Some people even suffer excruciating muscle and joint pain. Victims describe it as flu-like symptoms but many react quite differently depending on the strain of the virus. You can catch Dengue more than once and it can become more dangerous with successive infections.
Luckily in Phuket, there are frequent gangs out spraying (fogging) the worst affected areas to help minimise your exposure to mosquitoes.
Here are a few tips about avoiding Dengue when you are coming to Phuket and Thailand…
• Most mosquitoes ‘hang around’ close to the ground so your feet and legs dangling under the table are an easy target and out of sight. You won’t even know they’re there until you start scratching the bites. Then it’s already too late.
• Sunrise and sunset – these are the times of the day you’ll need extra precautions against mosquitoes. If you are at outdoor venues at the time make sure the fans are circulating the air under the tables and you have a quick spray of repellent.
• If you smell nice, perfume or after-shave, the mosquitoes will be attracted too. When they’re not biting you they’re usually attracted to flowers. Bland is better if you want to avoid mosquitoes.
• Mosquitoes are attracted to bright coloured clothing. Bland coloured clothes are less attractive to mosquitoes.
• Whatever you apply on your skin to deter mosquitoes, you’ll need to re-apply every few hours. If you’re outside in Phuket you WILL be perspiring and this both washes away the repellent and provides a new attractive scent for the mosquitoes.
• If you’ve been out all day, trekking or walking, pounding the pavements, swimming in the sea, you’ll be sweaty, salty and ripe for the mosquitoes.
• Have a shower, without using scented soap or lotions to be less attractive to the mosquitoes.
• Mosquito repellant coils work very well as a general deterrent but you’ll need to be sure that the coil’s fumes are blowing in the direction of your legs or exposed skin. Set them on the ground, where most of the mosquitoes tend to gather, around your legs and feet.
• Mosquitoes are attracted to light so if the lights are off outside and on inside, the mosquitoes will seek out the light.
• Spray your room before you go to bed. Mosquitoes will track you down, wherever you are. If there’s a hole in your room’s defences, mosquitoes will find a way in, windows… doors…. vents.
• A mosquito net above your bed is a cage that keeps you in, and the mosquitoes out. A good fan will also work very well but it’s got to be blowing hard enough so the mosquitoes can’t land on your body.
• Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant, still, pools of water. Keep your yard tidy and remove any pools of water which could become a local breeding ground in your vicinity. Local municipalities often spray neighbourhoods and, if you notice a lot of mosquitoes, best to inform the local Or Bor Jor (municipality) to schedule a spraying in your area.