However, with Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) Chief Dr Jirapan Teapan unavailable for comment this week, a Department of Disease Control (DDC) official posted at the PPHO had little to say on the matter.
The official confirmed that since the start of the year 220 people in Phuket had been confirmed by local hospitals as contracting dengue, the same figure revealed in a report posted on the DDC website last Tuesday (April 10). (See report here.)
Two of those people died after contracting the disease, the official noted.
“One (of the victims) lived in Rassada and the other in Mai Khao, Thalang. Both of them were Thai,” she said.
“I think that one of them was 26 years old and the other was 14 years old,” the DDC officer added, though was unwilling or unable to disclose further details.
The DDC report posted last week accounted for dengue infections across the country from Jan 1 to April 10.
Worse for Phuket, the report also included figures for March 4-31, showing Phuket already is the leading province in the country for infections per capita last month, with Krabi second and Phang Nga third.
A different report by the MoPH’s the Bureau of Epidemiology, brought to light by Outbreak News Today (see here), corroborated the DDC’s findings, noting that Phuket’s infection rate from Jan 1 – April 9 stood at 57.52 infections per 100,000 population.
Samut Sakhon, on the coastal outskirts of Bangkok, ranked second with 38.61 infections per 100,000 people, while Phang Nga ranked third with an infection rate of 36.54/100,000. Krabi ranked fifth with an infection rate of 35.26/100,000. (See report here.)
However, Phuket’s death toll from dengue might climb higher with the next report after 32-year-old Russian man Gerasim Grigoriev died at Vachira Phuket Hospital at 1:15am on April 11 after contracting the disease.
Mr Grigoriev was initially admitted to Mission Hospital Phuket for dengue symptoms on March 16, and later transferred to Vachira Phuket Hospital.
Regardless, the “unnamed” DDC official in Phuket said she was unaware of the case. “I haven’t see anything about it,” she said.
Not made clear in any reports were unsubstantiated claims that Mr Grigoriev suffered from other medical conditions, which may have made his dengue infection, albeit fatal, only a contributing factor in his death.
Asked about concerns for next month, when the southwest monsoon returns and brings the annual rains – and the number of dengue infections skyrocket while dengue-carrying mosquitoes breed – the Phuket DDC official ignored the issue.
Instead, she said she was focussed on water around people’s houses, schools and where people work.
“The cause of the high ranking of dengue fever in Phuket is more likely from water sources (where mosquitoes breed) near where people live and work, and near schools,” she said.
“We hold campaigns to educate people about dengue four times a year in several areas across Phuket. Our most recent PPHO activity had officers hand out pamphlets and announcements read out on the radio,” she added.
In addition to removing any standing water where mosquitoes may breed, the officer said that all people could do to protect themselves from contracting dengue is to take general precautions.
“People have to protect themselves. They must take care of their own health, and tourists should use mosquito spray,” she said.