Health officials warn over severe outbreak of dengue fever in Thailand

Health officials in Thailand have urged people in the country to protect themselves against mosquitoes amidst a deadly outbreak of dengue fever.

Cases of the powerful infection - which can be fatal - have soared with almost twice as many deaths already reported this year compared with all of 2018.

Fifty-eight people have been killed by dengue fever in 2019 compared with just 33 in all of 2018, in what medics say is ''one of the most severe dengue outbreaks in recent years''.

Health officials said there have been 40,402 cases - 1.6 times as many as 2018 - of the disease this year. The virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and spread through bites.

Dr. Cheewanan Lertpiriyasuwat, the Vector Borne Diseases Bureau director at the country's Department of Disease Control (DDC), said the ''current dengue outbreak situation was worrisome''.

She said that the prevalence of dengue in Thailand has jumped from last year’s figure of 38.6 people per 100,000 of the population to 61.16 persons per 100,000.

Dr. Cheewanan said: ''Considering the current rate of infection, we are faced with one of the most severe dengue outbreaks in recent years.

''The number of dengue cases in the first six months of this year is already higher than the numbers reported in an entire year during the last half a decade.

''Thailand alone is not affected by a surge in dengue cases. Neighbouring countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar are also experiencing a rapid spread of dengue at a record-breaking rate as well.''

Medics said that during the current surge in cases, the strain spreading the dengue virus is DENV-2 or dengue virus type 2, which is more lethal than other dengue strains, especially among adults .

To prevent the spread of dengue, they have urged those in the country to avoid breeding grounds of mosquitoes.