Thai health officials are stepping up prevention measures against dengue after 583 new cases of the fever were recorded between Jan. 1 and 11 this year.
Permanent Secretary of Public Health Dr Sopon Mekthon said the number of patients could soar to 166,000 this year – comparable with the last big outbreak in 1987, when there were about 170,000 cases.
Last year there were 140,000 cases of dengue, according to Dr Usa Thisyakorn at Chulalongkorn University, who is also chairwoman of Asian Dengue Vaccination Advocacy (ADVA).
Dr Sopon said most of the patients this year were aged between 15 and 24, and added that young people were the most at risk from the mosquito-borne disease.
Dengue is the world’s fastest-spreading tropical disease, according to the World Health Organization. It says about 50 million cases of dengue fever occur each year.
Symptoms include prolonged fever, painful headaches, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and skin rash. Dr Sopon advised people suspecting they had dengue to seek medical attention immediately.
None of the new cases so far this year have been fatal, although fans are grieving the death of actor Thridsadee “Por” Sahawong, who succumbed to complications from dengue fever on Monday.
The 37-year-old spent two months in a coma battling infections and complications from the disease. He leaves behind his wife, Vanda, and two-year-old daughter, Mali.