Spraying mosquito chemical repellent (Source: VNA)

 Hanoi (VNA) – El Nino is likely to be one of the strongest on record this winter, posing a risk of outbreak of dengue fever and other diseases in Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, according to a recent report from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre.

The spread of dengue fever is alarming in Vietnam and the number of infected cases may increase in the year-end months, according to Vietnam's Ministry of Health.

The dengue epidemic occurred with many reported cases this year and though winter is coming, the number does not seem to be decreasing, said Deputy Head of Bach Mai Hospital's Infectious Disease Department, Do Duy Cuong.

Fast urbanisation and a high volume of rain created favourable conditions for mosquitoes, which contributed to the increase of dengue cases, said the ministry.

Prolonged high temperature and high humidity also contributed to development of the disease, said Cuong.

There are more than 51,000 dengue cases reported this year nationwide, including 32 deaths, the health ministry reported.

Among those cases, nearly 79 percent are children under 15 and up to 83 percent are female.

In addition, scientific data suggest that an increased incidence of dengue fever corresponded to periods of higher temperatures driven by strong El Nino weather.

A common problem
One recent estimate indicates 390 million dengue fever infections per year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

There is no specific treatment for dengue and severe dengue, said the WHO.

The Health Prevention Sector suggest locals should implement drastic measures to prevent dengue epidemic.

"It is critical that every person knows how to protect himself, simply by destroying mosquito-breeding habitats, ensuring good sanitation for the living environment and using mosquito-repellents such as lotions or sprays on a daily basis," Vietnam Health Environment Management Agency Deputy Director, Nguyen Thi Lien Huong said.

El Nino is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, it occurs every two to seven years.

In Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, El Nino generally spurs hotter temperatures, which helps mosquitoes thrive.

Vietnam is among the countries which are forecast to be impacted most by the hot weather from now until December, said a report of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.-VNA