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Fears of new Dengue strain JAKARTA - SCIENTISTS have started collecting hundreds of blood samples from Indonesia's worst-hit dengue fever areas to determine whether they are contending with a new strain of the mosquito-borne virus. The outbreak had killed 256 people as of Wednesday in 19 of Indonesia's 32 provinces and infected more than 14,000 others, the health ministry said.
"The test results will help us identify the types, the subtypes, the degree of virulency so that we can treat the patients more quickly," said Dr Umar Achmadi, head of communicable disease control for the Health Ministry. Up to 500 blood samples from Jakarta, East Java and other provinces will be tested to determine why the current outbreak has been worse than in previous years, he said. It will take about a month to obtain the results, he added.
Dr Achmadi said the rate of infection in East Java province was still climbing, leading health officials to suspect that there may be a new strain of dengue, which can trigger fever, body aches and, in the most serious cases, internal bleeding. Jakarta's infection rate was also high but leveling off. "We suspect that there were many poor Jakartans who couldn't afford treatment and died. But since we've been giving free medicine, the numbers have gone down," he said.
Dengue is prevalent in Indonesia at this time of year during the annual rainy season which lasts until April. Torrential rains and floods have hit Indonesia in recent weeks. Stagnant water provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, which carry dengue fever - common in tropical areas and endemic to parts of Asia and the Caribbean.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 100 million people worldwide are infected with dengue each year, with a death rate of about 5 per cent. The Indonesian Government has set aside 150 billion rupiah ($22.8 million) for a mosquito eradication campaign. It has ordered hospitals to treat all dengue patients, including those who cannot pay for hospital treatment.



Posted in Dengue Fever @ 25 February 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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