Thailand Issues Health Warning For Black Leggings

Sept. 20, 2010, 10:56 a.m.

Kinan Suchaovanich

Bangkok. Thailand The Associated Press Published on Monday, Aug. 09, 2010 10:00AM EDT Last updated on Monday, Aug. 09, 2010 10:25AM EDT 

‘Korean fashion phenomenon’ increases risk of dengue fever for Thai youth: Health official

Health authorities in Thailand are urging young women to forego fashionable black leggings so as to avoid attracting unwanted attention from dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

“It's worrying how people dress nowadays, especially the youth,” Deputy Health Minister Pansiri Kulanartsiri said in a statement issued Sunday, which warned of a dengue outbreak and reminded that mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing.

Thailand has recorded 43 deaths and more than 45,000 cases of dengue in the first seven months of the year, an increase of about 40 per cent from the 31,929 cases and 30 deaths in same period last year. Dengue cases typically rise during the rainy season, which runs roughly from June through September.

Of this year's fatalities, 26 were between the ages of 10 and 24, prompting the Public Health Ministry to warn about the hazards of the must-have fashion item worn by girls and young women.

“I suggest people avoid wearing black leggings — or any dark colored clothing — so as not to attract mosquitoes,” Ms. Pansiri said, calling the leggings a “Korean fashion phenomenon.”

“Wear thick clothing like jeans, particularly during this period,” Ms. Pansiri said, noting mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing.

Dengue fever is endemic in Southeast Asia and a chronic problem during the rainy season, when stagnant water and unsanitary urban environments provide fertile breeding grounds for mosquitoes that transmit the disease.

Scientists fear rising temperatures and longer rainy seasons will allow more vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria to flourish.

Most of dengue's victims are children. There is no vaccine for dengue, also known as the “bone-breaker disease.” It can cause high fever, rashes, blistering headaches and intense joint pain. The most serious form of dengue can cause internal bleeding, liver enlargement and circulatory shut down.

In tropical Thailand, mosquitoes can lay up to 400 larvae at one time in vases, flower pots, jugs and litter-strewn areas that can serve as breeding grounds, but authorities find it difficult to destroy dengue-breeding habitats, he said.

“This is an epidemic year for dengue fever,” Ms. Pansiri said. “But what is more worrying is that people are aloof when it comes to prevention.”

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