Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease that has become so common among humans that it has in recent years turned into a major international public health concern.
According to a Health Ministry report, more than 157,000 people across Indonesia were infected by dengue fever with more than 1,400, mostly children, having died of the disease last year.
It is still a major killer in Indonesia and therefore people in various provinces such as East Java, Yogyakarta, Central Kalimantan, Jambi, Lampung, and North Sulawesi have been warned to remain vigilant.
Dengue fever was first detected in 1968 in Surabaya, East Java; and Jakarta when more than 50 cases were found at the time and more than half of the victims died of the disease.
Therefore, the Surabaya city`s health office over the weekend called on the local community to remain alert to the possibility of dengue outbreaks and other rainy season-related ailments like respiratory tract infection and skin disease.
Local health office chief Esty Martiana Rachmie said in Surabaya on Friday that the people should be wary of those three diseases in this rainy season.
"Dengue fever, respiratory track infection, and skin disease are lurking during the rainy season at the end of this year and therefore people should be vigilant," Esty said.
According to her dengue fever would continue to happen during the rainy season until January or February next year unless people clean up the breeding grounds of the mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.
"To anticipate a possible outbreak of dengue fever, people must immediately improve the quality of their environments by destroying the breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito," she said.
Dengue cases in Indonesia, a tropical country with a fast growing population, increase from time to time.
Therefore Yogyakarta city`s health office has also asked the local community to be wary of dengue fever during the rainy season this year.
"People have to be wary of dengue fever by regularly cleaning up the drains in front of their houses, ponds, pits, and other objects such as tires, pots, and cans that can trap rain water," local health office spokesperson Tuty Setyowati said in Yogyakarta recently.
Data from Yogyakarta city health office indicated that there were 434 cases of dengue fever with two fatalities as of September this year.
In 2010, there were 636 cases in Yogyakarta with five fatalities and therefore Tuty called on the local people to anticipate it this year by way of so-called `community deal` program to live a clean and healthy lifestyle.
"We will continue to increase public awareness and vigilance against this kind of deadly disease, because the absence of awareness and vigilance will increase the dengue fever case," Tuty noted.
Besides Surabaya and Yogyakarta, Jambi health office spokesperson Irawati Sukandar said in Jambi on Friday that two sub-districts namely Jambi Selatan and Kotabaru in the province were dengue fever endemic.
"We find out that the two sub-districts are dengue fever endemic after we carry out a special research by involving involving the health research agency of Palembang, South Sumatra," Irawati said.
According to her Jambi Selatan and Kotabaru sub-districts were the breeding ground of dengue fever-carrying mosquitoes because the waterways and reservoirs there were not cared for properly.
Irawati said that as of October 2011, more than 500 people in the two sub-districts were tested dengue fever positive, and therefore the local health office continued struggling to win the battle against that deadly disease.
In addition, the people Murung Raya district, Central Kalimantan, have also been asked to remain vigilant against a possible outbreak of the deadly disease during the rainy season this year.
It is because a number of children and toddlers, suffering from dengue fever, have been admitted to hospital.
"A number of children and toddlers are being treated at the hospital for dengue fever but luckily they are in a good condition," Puruk Cahu public hospital spokesman Suria Siri said in Central Kalimantan over the weekend.
Suria said that although the dengue fever in Murung Raya district had yet to be classified as extraordinary incident, the people should remain vigilant and maintaining their environmental health.
"The local government will conduct a fogging program to anticipate the spread of dengue fever but the people should also make every effort to clean up the breeding ground of the disease-carrying mosquitoes," Suria said.
Meanwhile, Lampung Selatan district health office in Lampung province has also deployed a health expert team to anticipate the outbreak of dengue fever in the district.
"The team will provide familiarization to the local community about the way how to prevent dengue fever from spreading during this rainy season," local health office spokesperson Kristie Endrawati said in Kalianda recently.
She said potential spread of dengue fever was very high in Lampung Selatan district because most of the area was moist with wide plantation as the breeding site of Aedes aegytpi mosquitoes.
Even that deadly disease is also lurking North Sulawesi provincial capital of Manado and therefore the city administration has also warned the local people against it.
"Dengue fever is a follow-up of every rainy season in Manado and therefore the people should be wary of that deadly disease," Manado Mayor Vicky Lumentut said in Manado over the weekend.
Lumentut said that as a precaution before the disease breaks out, the people in the city should clean up every waterway, ponds, and the surrounding environment from the dengue fever carrying mosquitoes.
At the first ASEAN Dengue Day conference in Jakarta in June 2011, Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih admitted that it was extremely difficult to keep the dengue fever disease under control.
The health minister said at the time that it was impossible to eradicate the breeding places for the disease-carrying mosquitoes but she added that dengue fever vaccine could be the best approach to curb the number of infections and fatalities in the country.(*)