VIENTIANE, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The Lao Ministry of Health has advised people throughout the country to clear potential mosquito breeding sites as an outbreak of dengue fever has claimed 27 lives and more than 11,000 people have contracted the virus so far this year.
The warning comes this week after more cases of dengue fever surfaced. Most of the infections and deaths were recorded in the capital and the southern provinces of Laos, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Tuesday.
"We have sent some specialists from the capital to discuss the control of dengue with health staff in the south of the country," Minister of Health Bounkong Syhavong said.
On Sunday, 11,561 people had been diagnosed with dengue fever and 27 have died around the country since the begining of 2019, according to the ministry's Communicable Disease Control Department.
"The weather conditions this year could lead to a widespread dengue outbreak if measures are not put in place to control the virus," Bounkong said.
To prevent and contain the disease, Bounkong has encouraged Lao government and private sectors, especially health departments around the country, to step up publicity campaigns to prevent the spread of the virus. The minister has advised health workers to educate individuals and communities so that they understand the dangers of the disease and take active steps to prevent it.
In addition, health departments are advised to encourage related entities to campaign about dengue and raise awareness of preventive measures in districts and dispensaries. Kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools are all advised to clear out any stagnant water that could harbor mosquito larvae, on a weekly basis.
In addition, improvement of the diagnosis and treatment of dengue at provincial and district hospitals and dispensaries is necessary to prevent unavoidable deaths.
"If you fall ill at this time of the year, you should consider the fact that dengue could be the likely cause. Please try to go to a hospital for a diagnosis as quickly as possible. Don't try to buy medicine at a pharmacy and take it at home," said Bounkong.
In 2017, there were 5,584 dengue fever cases including 14 deaths in Laos. In 2018, from January untill September, more than 4,600 infections along with 14 deaths have been recorded in the country.
Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Singapore are also seeing high numbers of dengue cases.
According to the World Health Organization, dengue is one of the fastest emerging infections and is currently the most rapidly spreading viral disease known. There is no specific treatment or vaccine available to prevent death.