Phuket Public Health Office Chief Tanit Sermkaew explained to The Phuket News on Thursday (Feb 21) that 308 people in Phuket had been confirmed as contracting Chikungunya from Jan 1 through Feb 14.
The spike in infections has resulted in Phuket being designated as having the highest infection rate in the country, he added.
“Since the beginning of the year there have been confirmed cases of Chikungunya in 17 provinces. Phuket is now in the top spot, while Pattani is second and Songkla third for the number of infections per 100,000 people,” Mr Tanit explained.
According to the Ministry of Public Health’s Bureau of Epidemiology, from Jan 1 through Feb 17, a total of 1,841 cases were reported from 18 provinces, with no deaths reported.
The highest proportion of cases by age group were: 25-34 years old (23.03%); 35-44 years old (18.47%); and 15-24 years old (16.89%).
The top five morbidity rates for the period by province were given as: Phuket (81.83 / 100,000 population); Pattani (64.63 / 100,000); Songkla (61.52 / 100,000); Narathiwat (6.68 / 100,000); and Phang Nga (6.47 / 100,000).
Mr Tanit explained that in Phuket during the period, 234 people were infected in Muang District (including Phuket Town and the southern end of the island), 49 were infected in Thalang District; and 25 were infected in Kathu District (which includes Patong and Kamala).
The tambon (subdistricts) in Phuket with the highest number of infections were Rassada (85 people infected); Chalong (32); and Rawai (21), Mr Tanit added.
Mr Tanit said, “Chikungunya will not result in death like dengue can, and while the number of dengue infections on the island is decreasing, the number of Chikungunya infections is rising.”
Regarding Phuket being designated as having the highest morbidity rate, Mr Tanit confirmed that the infection rate was calculated by comparing the number of infections with the officially registered population of Phuket, which he gave as 402,707 people living on the island as of July 1, 2018.
The Phuket Provincial Statistical Office confirmed to The Phuket News yesterday (Feb 22) that the official registered population of Phuket as of Dec 31, 2018 stood at 410,211.
However, it is openly accepted that after accounting for the number of Thais living on the island but not registering as living here, the expats living in Phuket and the number of tourists on the island on any given day, the island’s population is very likely to be more than double that.
Wichit Municipality, which covers a large part of Muang District encompassing more than 40,000 residents, this week ramped up their efforts against Chikungunya, with officials fogging villages and housing estates and conducting their own awareness campaign.
Anyone in Wichit wanting larvacide sand or for their area to be fogged were urged to call the municipality at 076-525100.
“We urge people to clear all areas around their homes of where mosquitoes can breed,” Mr Tanit said.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chikungunya symptoms usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The symptoms of Chikungunya are similar to those of dengue and Zika, diseases spread by the same mosquitoes that transmit Chikungunya. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.
“Chikungunya disease does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling… Most patients feel better within a week. In some people, the joint pain may persist for months,” the CDC notes.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Chikungunya virus.
To treat symptoms of Chikungunya, the CDC suggests:
• Get plenty of rest
• Drink fluids to prevent dehydration;
• Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain;
• Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding).
• If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.