1st dengue fever imported cluster confirmed after Cebu trip: CDC

TAIPEI (CNA) – Three people from central Taiwan have been confirmed as this year’s first imported dengue fever cluster after visiting Cebu in the Philippines, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Tuesday.

CDC Deputy Director-General Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) said the three patients were part of an 11-person tour group that visited Cebu on Feb. 1 as part of a holiday, while also engaging in religious activities in the area.

The three individuals returned to Taiwan on Feb. 13 and began to show symptoms of fever, headache and muscle aches that day and the next, Lo said.

Tests were administered and the results, received Feb. 18-20, confirmed the three were infected with dengue fever, Lo said.

Meanwhile, the other eight members of the tour group are currently under surveillance, which will continue until March 17, the CDC said.

According to CDC statistics, as of Feb. 25, there have been 65 cases of imported dengue fever this year, including 20 from Vietnam, 17 from Indonesia and 11 from the Philippines.

The numbers show an increase in the number of imported dengue fever cases this year relative to the same period in previous years with 33, 54, 51 and 19 cases for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Addressing the spread of dengue fever in South East Asia, Lo said the Philippines alone has had almost 18,000 cases this year up to Feb. 2, resulting in 75 deaths.

Meanwhile, Indonesia has had more than 23,000 cases of dengue fever, with 207 deaths so far this year, Lo said, adding that Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Cambodia and Laos have all experienced an increase in cases relative to previous years, in some cases double that of the same period last year.

Prevention of mosquito bites is a must for those visiting South East Asia over the upcoming 228 Peace Memorial Day long-weekend holiday from Feb. 28 to March 3, Lo said.

The CDC advised that those traveling to places with dengue fever should wear light colored clothing with long sleeves and long trousers, while also applying government-approved mosquito repellent on exposed skin.

Travelers are also advised to sleep in accommodation fitted with mosquito screen windows and doors, the CDC said.

In addition, individuals who display symptoms of sickness within two weeks of returning to Taiwan should seek immediate medical attention and be sure to inform medical staff where they have traveled, the CDC pointed out.

By Chen Wei-ting and William Yen