Taiwan dengue fever death toll at record high, claiming another 17

TAIPEI - The death toll from dengue fever has reached 106 since May 1, reaching a record high for the last 14 years with the death toll mainly concentrated in Tainan City, according to the latest figures released by the Central Epidemic Command Center, yesterday.

The number of deaths resulting from dengue fever increased by 17 cases in the past week alone; as for the overall nationwide death toll, 90 cases were in Tainan, 14 in neighbouring Kaohsiung and two in Pingtung. The median age of the deceased is 77 years old, reported the Center.

Deputy Director-General of the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) Chuang Jen-hsiang said the disease was discovered in the bodies of the reported 17 deceased after tests conducted on 19 suspected cases of the disease. Among the determined cases, 12 cases were in Tainan City, six in Kaohsiung and one in Pingtung. The ages of the deceased fell between 54 and 92 years old.

According to Chuang, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to dengue fever because they tend to suffer from existing chronic diseases. Also, there are other cases where patients had put off seeking medical treatment.

Chuang said a large proportion of the deceased were already battling chronic health problems before catching dengue fever, including high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disorders - all conditions that are listed as "high risk groups" by the World Health Organisation.

There are 28 suspected cases waiting to be tested, including 24 in Tainan City and four in Kaohsiung, said Chuang.

Also, while 47 patients are currently in extensive care units, many of the 21,260 infected patients have recovered: The recovery rate is 89.2 per cent, said Chuang.

Escalating in Kaohsiung

CDC official Liu Ting-ping said the outbreak in Tainan has improved, with the number of new cases reported this week equal to 70 per cent of last week's numbers. Tainan City saw 200 new cases of dengue fever as of Oct. 13 - 77 less than the previous week, according to Liu.

However, over the same period, the situation in Kaohsiung has intensified, said Liu: 151 new cases have surfaced in Kaohsiung City, an increase of 53 cases - a 30-per cent increase from the previous week.

The command centre urged Kaohsiung to enhance disease prevention efforts in the area.

While Tainan will continue its efforts to control the outbreak, Kaohsiung will step up to fight the spread of the disease, said Chuang.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne, potentially fatal disease that mainly affects people in tropical and subtropical regions, causing a fever, nausea and muscle and joint ache.

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