Dengue fever cases top 21,000 in Guangdong

More than 21,000 people now infected with the mosquito-borne disease in Guangdong province

The number of cases of dengue fever in Guangdong has doubled in just over a week.

Twenty cities in the province had reported 21,527 cases by midnight on Sunday, according to figures released by the provincial health department.

The authorities had reported 10,743 cases on September 27.

Six people have died of the disease.

Guangzhou officials pledged about a fortnight ago to contain the outbreak in about “two to three weeks” with stronger eradication measures, but the rise in infections of the mosquito-born virus is showing no sign of easing.

Xinhua warned last week that if Guangzhou and other key cities failed to contain dengue fever in the next month or two, the outbreak will further escalate and spread to other regions, describing it an “extremely challenging prevention effort”.

Dengue fever can cause a skin rash similar to measles, headaches, and muscle and joint pain. A small number of sufferers develop a life-threatening haemorrhagic fever, or dengue shock syndrome, in which blood pressure drops dangerously low.

The number of dengue fever cases reported so far this year is about five times higher than in the same period last year. Five of the six who have died are from Guangzhou.

With infections continuing to rise during the week-long National Day holiday, local government departments, state enterprises and schools are stepping up hygiene controls and putting quarantine measures in place to prevent the disease’s spread.

Xinhua said Guangzhou would launch a campaign to clean pooled water today where mosquitoes breed to eliminate the insects at workplaces, schools and public venues.

Officials have partly blamed the high infection rate this year on heavier than normal rainfall and warmer temperatures.

The Guangdong and the Guangzhou Centres for Disease Control and Prevention declined to comment when asked if they had failed to meet promises to contain the outbreak.

The Guangdong Health and Family Planning Commission did not answer calls.

Some 18,192 cases have been reported in Guangzhou, 1,997 in Foshan and 315 in Zhongshan .

Zhuhai reported 172 cases and Shenzhen 93.

An unidentified expert at the Guangdong Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Guangzhou Daily that the Baiyun district was the hardest hit area of the city.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission said last week that about 80 per cent of dengue fever cases across the country were reported in Guangdong.