Due to recent rainfall and changing seasons, Bali has seen a surge in cases of Dengue Fever. In May alone 48 people have been taken to Klungkung Hospital needing treatment for the mosquito-borne disease. Though most people experience mild but unpleasant symptoms, Dengue Fever can be fatal if untreated.
The cases of Dengue Fever have been caused by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that has been tracked down in Klungkung Regency. The Klungkung Regency sits next to Giyanar District, Bali’s most populated area outside of Denpasar. Klungkung Regency is best known for its black sand beaches, like Lebih Beach and Pantai Leaping.
The outbreak has been classified as an endemic in the Klungkung Regency and health officials are working to control the population of Aedes Aegypti mosquito. They are carrying out extermination efforts which include fogging of the nests. Fogging is regularly carried out across Bali when there are localized dengue outbreaks. Indonesia has a good track record of dealing with mosquito-borne diseases and scientists in Java are at the cutting edge of genetically modifying mosquitoes to help eliminate disease.
Fogging is used in low-density areas where the nests are suspected to be located but haven’t been identified. In the case of nests, abatement methods are used which was the use of chemical larvicides in the form of sprays or targeted foggers to eliminate the mosquitoes and their larvae.
This combination approach has been used in Klungkung and pest control officers are still working around the clock to curb the outbreak. Preventative measures are being taken across communities in the area including the clearing of stagnant water in temple moats, ponds and ditches and community cleaning operations.
A representative for the Klungkung Regency Health Office, Nyoman Suwirta, told the press that the public should not ‘let dengue fever cause us to feel afraid like during the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s apply the concept of PHBS [fogging] and start re-activating the use of abate drugs’.
Some symptoms of Dengue Fever may appear in the first few days to be very similar to Covid-19. Dengue is unlike other mosquito-borne diseases in that the symptoms increase in severity the more a patient experiences it. Those who are infected for a second time have an increased risk of developing the disease more severely especially the high fever.
The key symptoms of Dengue Fever are a high fever, a rash, joint pain, and body aches, as well as severe headaches and in some cases nausea and vomiting. Though symptoms tend to subside within a few days those with suspected Dengue are advised to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Common treatments include fluid therapy to aid hydration and specific pain killers.
Pain killers containing ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium should be avoided as they increase the risk of complications. This is why ibuprofen and aspirin products are not available at traveler pharmacies without a prescription in Indonesia unlike places like Australia and the UK where they are available from the shelf.
Locals and travelers are advised to increase their usual anti-mosquito protocols. This can include wearing loose-fitting clothing and covering skin at times when mosquitoes are most active, especially in the evenings. Wear mosquito repellant and consider burning anti-mosquito citronella candles or lamps.
Bali experiences periodic outbreaks of dengue fever and has systems in place to curb outbreaks efficiently. Travelers are reminded to take out comprehensive travel and health insurance before arriving in Bali to keep them safe in the unlikely event they need to be hospitalized.
The Center for Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics in Denpasar has advised that heavy rainfall and strong winds will continue in the coming days. As Bali’s seasons change so do the weather conditions, it is a good opportunity for locals and travelers to be reminded to take suitable safety precautions both against adverse weather and their own health.
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