Dengue epidemic hits Indonesia

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Feb 27, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia has been hit by an unusually large dengue fever epidemic this year, with more than 300 deaths among more than 17,000 cases so far, according to news service reports.

An Agence France-Presse (AFP) report said the death toll climbed from 260 yesterday to 322 today. The story said almost 18,000 cases have occurred since Jan 1. The disease spreads annually during the rainy season, but the toll so far this year is more than double last year's, according to the AFP report.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the Indonesian Ministry of Health had reported 14,626 cases with 260 deaths as of yesterday, for a case-fatality rate of 1.8%. Cases were reported in all provinces of Java, the nation's most populous island, and two provinces in Sumatra.

The Ministry of Health has begun intensive spraying to kill the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus, the WHO said. The agency said all four serotypes of the dengue virus are circulating, with Den-3 the most common.

Indonesian health officials said earlier this week that they planned to take hundreds of blood samples for tests to determine if they are contending with a new strain of dengue virus, according to a Feb 25 Associated Press (AP) report.

The AP reported that torrential rains have hit Indonesia in recent weeks, providing plenty of standing water for breeding mosquitoes.

The AFP report said Jakarta, Indonesia's capital and largest city with 12 million people, has been hit hard by the epidemic. Long lines of patients and their families have filled hospitals there.

The WHO says the geographic range of dengue viruses has grown dramatically since 1970 and now includes more than 100 countries. The agency estimates there are 50 million cases annually.

See also:

WHO statement on dengue fever in Indonesia
http://www.who.int/csr/don/2004_02_26a/en/

WHO fact sheet on dengue fever
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/

WHO's dengue information page
http://www.who.int/csr/disease/dengue/en/

CIDRAP overview of viral hemorrhagic fevers

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