Tokyo Park Officials Look to Avoid a Dengue Fever Repeat


From pesticides to clipped grass, Tokyo’s park administrators are employing several extra measures as of late to prevent a dengue fever outbreak similar to last summer’s.

Asia One reports that these proactive measures should reduce the number of Asian tiger mosquitoes which buzz about Yoyogi Park in Shibuya Ward.

Last summer’s outbreak forced that green space to close for much of the season after it was discovered that nearly 80 percent of the dengue fever victims had visited the park. Officials also want citizens to not let large amounts of water collect in drains, plant pots or other containers where the tiger mosquitos can breed. The Asia One article quoted one Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association official as saying: “By any means, we want to prevent a situation similar to what we faced last year.”

The symptoms of dengue fever include fever, rash and joint pain, the latter of which can become extreme in rare cases. More than 115 people were stricken by the fever during last year’s outbreak, Japan’s first case of the rampant mosquito-borne disease since 1945. According to the Nikkan newspaper, two of the most high profile people to be affected by the bug bites and, in turn the virus, were supermodels, 20-year-old Saaya, and 25-year-old Eri Aoki, who were filming in the park for a popular variety show called “King’s Brunch.” CNN then reported that the other victims ranted in age from 10-year-old children to seniors in their 70s, and added that while symptoms cause discomfort they can quickly clear up within a week, although death can ensue in extreme cases.

At the time, Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said there was no need for panic, but added: “What we need to be careful of, however, is about the elderly, younger children and infants.”

After a 57-day closure, Yoyogi Park reopened last November, according to Japan Today, because the mosquitos carrying the virus could not survive in colder winter weather. However, the promise of freezing seasons will not prove to be our permanent salvation from this virus—last summer the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that climate change and global warming has lead to a prevalence of viruses like malaria and dengue. In a press release, WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Flavia Bustreo said: “Without effective action to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change on health, society will face one of its most serious health challenges.”

—Kyle Mullin

Image: nightamazon/Flickr, used under CC

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