After reporting a record 22,760 indigenous dengue fever cases and 112 deaths in 2015, Tainan City health officials (computer translated) are reporting the first case of the year in a 63-year-old man from Annan District. This is two months earlier than the first case was reported in 2015, prompting Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te to declare that dengue season has begun.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

In addition, some suspected cases are being investigated in Yongkang District.

In response to this year’s first indigenous dengue case, Taiwan CDC decided to establish the criteria for activating Epidemic Command Center in order to promptly provide appropriate assistance to the local government.

To strengthen this year’s dengue prevention and control efforts and lower the risk of a large-scale outbreak, besides closely monitor dengue activity, the Taiwan CDC has decided to implement the four major strategies for dengue prevention and control earlier than planned. The strategies are as follows:

1. Earlier this year, 23 million dollars has been approved to fund the Dengue Preparedness Plan for At-risk Cities/Counties as an attempt to aggressively supervise these local governments in implementing relevant preparedness efforts earlier.

2. Provide local governments with the Dengue Guidelines for Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Control that was revised on February 1, 2016, which will serve as a reference for the disease control personnel.

3. Loosen restrictions on the use of dengue NS1 rapid test to facilitate early diagnosis and implementation of subsequent measures that prevent further transmission of the disease.

4. Establish a national level research institute for vector-borne diseases to assist local governments in implementing prevention efforts on the frontline.