Monday, 25 April 2016

Could We See Another Dengue Epidemic This Year?

"A case of indigenous dengue fever and a case of imported Chikungunya fever were confirmed in Kaohsiung on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control said."
Could we be due for yet another epidemic of dengue, or something else like that hard to pronounce "Chicken-Gun-Yah?" virus? Well summer will soon be here and we've had much more rain than usual for this time of the year, so that would seem to suggest so. On the other hand, could the chances of another epidemic be reduced by behaviour changes among the public following last year's epidemic?

Perhaps, but that assumes two things: first, that one of the largest vectors for dengue last year was in fact pools of standing water in people's houses; second, that people have actually paid attention to the warnings and ensured a vast reduction or absence of standing water this year.

There are other possibilities; private residences were not the only sources of standing water. The public parks all contained low lying areas of earth that filled up with water when it rained last summer; although some of these were filled with sand, they have still filled up with water when it has rained this year. Might there not also be stagnant corners of canals, streams and ponds that receive little aeration from moving water and, worse, contain bits and pieces of floating garbage? There are certainly some stagnant areas of several local reservoirs, but these are far away from the city where last year's epidemic was concentrated.
"The Kaohsiung Health Bureau said that it has disinfected the residences of the two patients, adding that as both dengue and Chikungunya fevers are spread by mosquitoes, the public should remove standing water from pots and containers to keep mosquito larvae at bay, especially in light of the rising temperatures and intermittent rain in southern Taiwan."
One might wonder also whether this reminder will be extended to other government bureaus and public institutions such as universities, schools, hospitals and police stations? Were any of the buildings for these institutions actually disinfected last year?

The thought did occur to me last year whether there was simply an unspoken assumption that any given dengue case must be traceable to the person's home and/or neighbourhood and not to the public institutions that they may work in. I remember being told the story of an NCKU professor who had to wait outside his home whilst it was disinfected, and whilst waiting on the street, was bitten by mosquitoes. I wonder how many mosquitoes there may be within the walls of the NCKU and other universities?

In any case I already have my anti-mosquito repellents set up, and there is no standing water anywhere in the house save for the water in the toilet bowels. An earlier comment on this subject here.

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