Countries in region also battling disease

KUALA LUMPUR - Several countries around the region are also fighting dengue, though there does not seem to be any exceptional spike in cases so far except in Thailand.

In Thailand, the viral disease is heading for a record, with 44 deaths in the first five months this year among the 39,029 patients, officials say. For the whole of last year, there were 82 dengue deaths.

The number of deaths for this year could hit at least 100, they said.

About half of the patients were children under the age of 15, the Public Health Ministry's Permanent Secretary Narong Sahamethaphat said, adding that the situation was reaching a critical state.

The number of cases usually rises during the Thai rainy season, which started last month.

In Malaysia, three people, including two toddlers, died of dengue-related complications in the past week as the country saw a rise in deaths over the first six months of this year.

Figures released by its health ministry yesterday showed 22 people had died as at June 10, an increase of one fatality compared to the same six-month period a year earlier.

In Indonesia, there has been a rise in dengue cases this year due to the prolonged rainy season, with rainfall lingering till late last month, well past the usual end of the rains at end-March.

Comprehensive figures for the number of deaths across the country are not yet available. The Health Ministry told The Straits Times there were 90,245 dengue cases last year, with 816 deaths.

In Jakarta, seven of the more than 3,000 people who were infected with dengue have died in the first five months of the year, said the Jakarta Health Agency. This compares with five fatalities in the whole of last year.

In India, a severe bout of dengue is sweeping parts of the southern Indian state of Karnataka, with five deaths recorded over the past month. Dozens of cases have been reported from neighbouring Kerala state as well, with no deaths reported.

So far, there are no reports of major outbreak for rest of India, although health officials are braced for a rise in cases amid the rainy monsoon season.

BY THE STRAITS TIMES BUREAUS


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