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Dengue fever escalates in Southern Taiwan

TAIPEI -- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Wednesday urged residents of Southern Taiwan to be on high alert against dengue fever as an increasing number of cases have been reported in that area.

There have been 172 confirmed indigenous cases of the mosquito-borne disease in Taiwan so far this year, 53 of which were reported in Kaohsiung last week, the CDC said.

By comparison, as of mid-July last year, 74 cases had been identified nationwide, CDC data showed.

The recent high temperatures and humidity could be responsible for the surge in the number of cases, the CDC said, urging people to take greater precautions ahead of an expected peak period around September.

An outbreak in Taiwan could mean 100-200 new cases of dengue fever per week, the CDC said.

The threat from abroad is also on the rise, the CDC said, noting the number of cases reported in neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore has been higher this year than in 2013.

Preventive measures such as draining water containers, cleaning up vector breeding sites close to residential areas and taking precautions against mosquito bites should be observed, the CDC said.

Dengue fever is an infectious tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. The symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and skin rash. In a small proportion of cases, the disease can develop into the life-threatening hemorrhagic dengue fever.

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