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2014年9月 6日 (土)

デング熱拡大 感染症の侵入に注意しよう

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Measures must be taken to prevent entry, spread of infectious diseases
デング熱拡大 感染症の侵入に注意しよう

The dengue fever virus has been spreading. Confirmation of domestic infections with the virus is the first in about 70 years. Caution is a must.

The infection seems to have spread when a person or persons infected with the virus overseas brought the virus to Japan and mosquitoes that had sucked the blood of those infected individuals went on to bite other people.

The number of people infected with the virus has topped 50. All of them had visited Yoyogi Park in Tokyo or its environs. The virus has been detected in some of the mosquitoes caught in the park. The Tokyo metropolitan government, which administers the park, closed most of it on Thursday.

A disaster drill was conducted in the park Monday with about 2,000 people participating. At the time, the infection had already been reported. So we wonder whether the metropolitan government had full awareness of possible risks.

A mosquito’s range of activity is limited to a radius of 50 meters to 100 meters. The sites of infection may not go beyond the park’s environs, but guard should not be dropped. Extra caution must be taken until around late October when the mosquitoes disappear.

Those infected with dengue virus develop symptoms such as a fever of 38 C or more, headache and joint pain, similar to the symptoms of a cold. If one runs a high fever three to seven days after being bitten by a mosquito, it is important to visit a medical institution as soon as possible. The number of dengue patients reaches about 100 million a year in the world as neither a vaccine nor specific drug have yet been developed.

Excessive fear unnecessary

However, there is no need to be extremely fearful. This is because symptoms are developed by 10 percent to 50 percent of those infected with the dengue virus and a mere 1 percent to 5 percent of these patients suffer such serious conditions as melena or vomiting of blood. With adequate treatment, the fatality rate could be held to less than 1 percent even in serious cases.

The most effective preventive measure is to not be bitten by mosquitoes. We must protect ourselves by avoiding skin exposure and using insect repellent.

Japan sees about 200 cases annually in which people develop dengue fever after becoming infected with the virus in Southeast Asia or elsewhere and then returning home. It cannot be ruled out that domestic infections occurred in the past without being detected.

Tests for the dengue virus are usually conducted on people who complain of symptoms after returning from areas where infection is rampant. In the latest case, a patient with a fever happened to see a physician with knowledge of dengue fever, and this led to the discovery of other infected people one after another.

Early identification of infected patients is essential for prevention of further infection. It is necessary to alert physicians treating such patients about the disease.

As international movements of people and goods have become more active today, the danger of various kinds of infectious diseases being brought into Japan from overseas has increased. West Nile fever and Chikungunya fever, which originate in tropical and subtropical areas and are transmitted by mosquitoes like dengue fever, have seen outbreaks in Europe and the United States as well.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has been checking whether virus-carrying mosquitoes can be found in aircraft at airports as well as in port facilities.

There is a limit to what can be done to prevent viruses from crossing the national border. It is essential for local governments and health care centers to take measures such as catching mosquitoes regularly in an effort to keep a close watch against such viruses gaining a domestic foothold.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 5, 2014)Speech


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