Indonesia: Authorities, hospitals brace for dengue fever outbreak

Syamsul Huda M. Suhari & Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post 16 Jan 16;

Indonesia is anticipating an outbreak of dengue fever after the disease killed dozens of people in several regions and hospitalized hundreds of others following the country’s entry into the rainy season over the past several weeks.

In Gorontalo municipality, a six-year-old child from Pulubala subdistrict died earlier this week due to dengue fever. Meanwhile, scores of local residents have been put under intensive hospital treatment due to a similar disease.

Yana Suleman, head of the disease control and environmental health (P2PL) unit at the Gorontalo Health Agency, said the number of dengue fever patients would likely increase as local hospitals had reported an increasing number of incoming patients showing symptoms of dengue fever.

“The hospitals need to wait for lab results to confirm whether a person is suffering from dengue fever. Looking at the current situation, the list of [dengue fever] patients will probably get longer,” she told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Dengue fever is a disease carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. It takes between four and 10 days for symptoms to manifest after a person has been bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito. The most common signs are high fever, severe headache, nausea, swollen glands and joint pain.

Apart from carrying out regular fogging measures, Yana said her agency had been campaigning to encourage local residents to maintain cleanliness in their houses and communities, particularly during the wet season, when mosquitoes usually reproduced quickly.

Locals, she added, must also implement the 3M-plus procedure, or mengubur (bury), menguras (drain) and menutup (cover), in order to eliminate stagnant water in which mosquitoes can breed.

Last year, Gorontalo recorded 62 dengue fever cases, four of which produced fatalities.

As of Thursday, the 350-bed Aloei Saboe General Hospital (RSUD), the biggest hospital in Gorontalo province, had been forced to admit 400 patients due to the increasing number of incoming dengue fever patients from the provincial capital of Gorontalo and from several neighboring regions.

Femmy Udoki, a local resident, said she had found it difficult to get her child admitted to a hospital in the city after the latter’s lab test for dengue fever had come back positive.

“Last [Wednesday] night, I checked every hospital in the city but all of them were full,” she told the Post at Aloei Saboe RSUD’s emergency unit.

Meanwhile in Bandung, West Java Deputy Governor Deddy Mizwar called on all hospitals in the province to prepare for a dengue fever outbreak after the disease killed 17 people in Indramayu regency in the past three months.

“The hospitals must be ready to provide immediate medical assistance to dengue fever patients as the disease can be fatal if a patient receives late medical assistance,” he said on Friday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

The disease has also killed three people in Merangin, Jambi, two people in Boyolali, Central Java, and one in Sleman, Yogyakarta, during the first two weeks of this year.

Head of Kolonel Abundjani Bangko General Hospital in Merangin, Berman Saragih, said that the hospital had treated 29 dengue fever patients since the beginning of this year, most of them children and elderly people.

“To contain the spread of the disease, we will work with the local health agency to carry out fogging measures in more areas in the regency,” he said.

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