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Nation on Guard Against Malaria, Dengue Fever

Quarantine authorities are urging travelers to take precautions against the mosquito-borne disease dengue fever after several Southeast Asian countries have reported cases.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka have recently reported outbreaks of the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).


To stop it spreading to China, travelers from regions subject to dengue fever are being asked to declare symptoms such as fever, headaches, bone or joint and muscular pains and rashes associated with the disease at Chinese quarantine and inspection stations.


The request was made in a bulletin issued Thursday by the State General Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine.


If travelers develop any of these symptoms after entering China, they should seek medical care immediately.


The outbreak first appeared in Bhutan, where 1,565 cases were reported between July 1 and 16. There were no deaths, according to the WHO website at http://www.who.int.


By July 19, Sri Lanka had registered 9,062 cases and 59 deaths. Indonesia recorded 59,321 cases of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever and 669 deaths by July 7.


Bangladesh reported 698 cases, with three deaths, by July 21, according to the WHO.


Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection that in recent years has become a major international public health concern. No vaccine is available. The infection does not spread directly from person to person.


To prevent dengue-carrying mosquitoes from entering China, quarantine authorities have ordered all transport equipment and containers from infected areas to be disinfected.


On Thursday, quarantine officials advised people who may be heading for the four Southeast Asian countries to get the latest information about the disease from local quarantine agencies or health care centers.


Also this week, the Ministry of Health called for conscientious efforts to monitor, report and control malaria to prevent outbreaks in China.


Malaria prevention should specifically target Chinese migrant workers, especially those returned from Myanmar or working on the Sino-Myanmar borders, the ministry announced on Wednesday.


By the end of July, 80 malaria cases, including two deaths, had been reported among rural migrants in southwest China's Sichuan Province. All the victims had worked on the Sino-Myanmar border, according to the ministry.


Malaria is an infectious disease characterized by cycles of chills, fever, and sweating. The disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito.


Tests for malaria have been added to regular checks conducted on fever patients.


The Ministry of Health has also notified quarantine inspection departments to tighten sanitation inspections of individuals and vehicles at border stations, and a regular information exchange mechanism has been set up between the two departments.


(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency August 20, 2004)

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