With the rainy season continuing well in October, Johnson & Johnson (Thailand) is launching a “Protect Your Family, Prevent Dengue” campaign to raise awareness of the effects of dengue fever, the mosquito-borne tropical disease that has so far caused 31 fatalities in Thailand in 2017.
According to the World Health Organisation, dengue incidences continue to grow around the world, especially in tropical countries like Thailand, where actual numbers of dengue cases are underreported and many cases are misclassified.
The Dengue Incidence Report from the Bureau of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Public Health reports that there have been 22,356 cases of dengue fever recorded throughout Thailand so far this year, with the highest incident rates in the South, including Songkhla, Phatthalung, Pattani, Narathiwat and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
While a vaccine has been approved by the Thai FDA, it is not included as part of the national vaccination programme and therefore remains inaccessible to the poor and underprivileged.
The campaign aims to improve preventative measures, in order to create safe environments at home, work and in the community.
“Dengue prevention is already a priority on the agenda of the Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, but Johnson & Johnson believes that more can be done to educate the general public on the severity of the disease and ways of protecting their families. We understand the seriousness of the dengue situation in Thailand and although this ‘common’ fever does not often lead to death, we would like to encourage Thais to be vigilant of their surroundings and of the potential symptoms of dengue fever,” said Neeraj Goyal, Johnson & Johnson’s marketing director.
To raise awareness among the general public, Johnson & Johnson has engaged Thai celebrities, Nattawut and Pornthip Skidjai, to share their knowledge of dengue, its symptoms, first aid remedies and simple prevention tips.
“On behalf of the Skidjai family, I feel honoured to be a part of such an educational and beneficial campaign. Understanding dengue is important, especially in a tropical country like Thailand, because it is something that occurs every year, and affects normal families like ours. It is essential that we understand dengue and recognise its symptoms so that we can administer first-aid care as quickly as possible, especially in families with children whose immunities are lower and are more likely to contract a severe version of the fever or even develop other complications,” said Nattawut.
“The whole family can help create safe environments and surroundings in the home by controlling mosquito breeding areas. Fathers can ensure the emptying of garbage and keep garbage areas clean, mothers can help clean the house, and children can help by keeping all water containers covered. These simple steps will help protect and take care of the surroundings of our loved ones,” he added.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection that often shows flu-like signs and symptoms. The cycle of the dengue fever virus involves mosquitoes as vectors and humans as the main victims. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the main transmitter of the dengue virus, which is then passed onto humans through the infected female mosquitoes’ bites. The mosquito-borne viral disease has rapidly spread in all regions in recent years. Peak transmission occurs during the rainy season, from June to September.
Once infected, symptoms will begin after about 4-7 days, and the first stage is often mistaken for flu. Other symptoms of dengue fever include high fever (up to 39-40 degrees Celsius), severe headaches, severe joints and muscle pains, skin rash, mild to severe nausea and vomiting, mild bleeding from nose, gums, mild bruising and febrile convulsions.
“People often mistake dengue with a common fever or influenza because of the similarities of the initial symptoms and often treat it with just over-the-counter medication. Treating the fever with the wrong medication, however, like aspirin and Ibuprofen, is not recommended as it may increase severity of the disease. I recommend taking precautions and treating the fever with paracetamol. Patients should also ensure they take the correct dosage according to their age and weight, as overdosing on paracetamol may affect the liver,” said Manoon Lechawengwong.
Currently, there is no specific medication to treat dengue. The Department of Disease Control suggests treating the fever with over-the-counter pain relievers that contains paracetamol to reduce the fever. The infected organism in dengue patients affect the platelets, which are responsible for blood clotting, and increase the tendency of the person to bleed. If either aspirin or ibuprofen are taken with dengue, it could cause the person to bleed excessively and drive patients into a dengue shock syndrome stage. Once in this stage, emergency medical treatment is needed and hospitalisation becomes a necessity. Therefore, it is imperative to treat what people mistake for viral fever with paracetamol. Dengue patients are also recommended to rest and drink plenty of fluids and if the symptoms worsen after 24 hours of illness, they should seek medical attention immediately.