Fri, 03 Mar 2000

Dengue cases cause concern at hospitals

JAKARTA (JP): Hospital officials warned on Thursday that a severe outbreak of dengue fever could strike the city, with many recently admitted patients in the advanced hemorrhagic stage of the disease.

Spokeswoman of St. Carolus Hospital in Central Jakarta, Endang Suryatno, and coordinator of the inhouse department at the Indonesian Christian University (UKI) Hospital in East Jakarta Djatmiko Djati said in separate interviews that most patients were in a serious stage of infection from the dengue virus, transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

"Most patients were in an advanced stage of viral infection," Endang said.

"In some cases, the patients were hemorrhaging when they were admitted here."

She dismissed speculation that dengue was becoming a more serious problem because of public ignorance about symptoms of the disease.

"People are now more conscientious while dealing with dengue, mostly after experiencing a dengue fever outbreak in 1998. People now rush for medical treatment even though it is just a light fever," she said.

"Probably, the virus has now become more malignant and the incubation period is faster than before."

Djatmiko said some patients should undergo advanced medical procedures, including blood tests, even if the preliminary diagnosis was a light fever.

Djatmiko said five to six dengue fever patients were admitted to his hospital every day.

"When the outbreak was at its peak in 1998, the number could reach 15 patients a day." He said there were 15,000 dengue cases that year, with 133 fatalities.

The city administration previously warned of the possibility of a dengue fever outbreak this year as seven people had died of the disease as of March 1. Data at the city's health agency show there were 1,309 cases through March 1.

Djatmiko said the city health authority distributed circulars to hospitals to prepare for a possible dengue fever outbreak.

"I think hospitals are now readier to face the dengue outbreak after our experience in 1998," he said, adding that the UKI hospital was not experiencing problems with the medicine or blood supply due to intensive coordination with drug manufacturers and the hospital's blood bank.

St. Carolus is in a similar situation.

Endang said the hospital established good cooperation with drug suppliers.

"Problems of drug shortages usually occur at state-owned hospitals because the supply is based on allocation," she said. (ind)