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Flooding in Thailand Causes Travel Medicine Worries

Posted by floriza in Travel Medicine

The recent flooding in Thailand could cause a dengue fever epidemic in the country, which is cause for worry among locals, travelers, and travel medicine professionals. As a result, UNICEF (the children’s fund of the United Nations) and the Save the Children charity have pledged $300,000 for disease prevention.

Twenty thousand mosquito nets will be sent to the country, which have been treated with insecticides that are effective against mosquitoes. $102,000 will be spent to create temporary shelters for people who have been flooded out of their homes. These shelters will include recreational facilities for children. Trained counselors, volunteers, teachers, and social workers will be on staff at the shelters.

Twenty thousand pamphlets will also be distributed to educate people about how to prevent infectious diseases and how to protect children in flood conditions. The instructions will include hygiene recommendations and ways to avoid injuries in emergency situations.

Worst Floods in Decades

During the monsoon season in Thailand, flooding is not unusual, but this year has brought the worst floods since the 1960s. Nearly 400 people have died so far, and the rains have not subsided. The flooding has recently reached the capital city of Bangkok, bringing the total number of people affected by the rains to more than two million.

While the mosquito nets will not affect travelers, travel medicine and infectious disease physicians have cautioned visitors to Thailand about the risks of contracting mosquito-borne infections. Currently, there are no travel medicine vaccines or medications that can prevent dengue fever infection. Therefore, it is important that travelers in Thailand avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, if at all possible. The nets and shelters provided by UNICEF and Save the Children will hopefully cut down on infections among local Thais affected by the floods.

Mosquitoes that carry this disease are already abundant in Thailand and will breed more prolifically as a result of the floods.

What is Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is a tropical virus that is transmitted by certain species of mosquito. It is prevalent in more than 110 countries, especially in parts of Africa and Asia. While the disease is often not life-threatening, children are particularly vulnerable to it. The symptoms include fever, headache, muscular pain, and a measles-like skin rash. Vomiting and diarrhea are also occasional symptoms, especially in children.

There are more incidences of dengue fever worldwide today than 50 years ago. Travelers who develop a fever within two weeks of returning home should seek assistance from a physician specializing in travel medicine in New Jersey or wherever they reside. If the fever does not commence until two weeks after the possibility of infection, it is probably not dengue fever.


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