Thailand: Dengue fever no danger to orchids

Tom Vail, CEO of Amy's Orchids, writes in from Sam Phran, Nakhorn Pathom, Thailand, to share some of his experiences. Read along to find out more about Orchidland.

Rainy season is finally at an end. Thailand has a tropical climate, always hot, but with essentially two seasons – the Dry season, and the Rainy season. Rainy season starts around May or June, and lasts until November or December. People from temperate regions tend to think of Rainy season as a never ending monsoon. It’s not like that in Thailand. During Rainy season, there is usually rain every day, but usually for only an hour or two. It can be a gentle rain, or heavy and windy. In either case, because of the high temperature and steady breezes (Orchidland is not far from the Gulf of Thailand), the ground usually dries quickly – the perfect climate for tropical orchids.

Typically, during Rainy season, there is some flooding. In some years, flooding can be locally devastating. Every year is different. Last year was drier than most. So was this year, until October. Then, the rains got heavier, sometimes several times per day. Standing water increased. And with the standing water, mosquitoes, and with the mosquitoes, Dengue Fever.

The latest report is that over 100,000 people in Thailand have contracted Dengue Fever (out of a population of over 60 million). Over 100 have died. Fortunately, it is not really spreading quickly.

Because of the unusual volume of rain at the end of the rainy season, the volume of mosquitoes has exploded. They are everywhere. They follow you into your office, your car, your home. They are small and silent. Again, fortunately for us, Dengue Fever is ‘around’ us, but not in our area. Dengue Fever is now found to the east and west of Sam Phran, the Dendrobium Capital of the World. Orchid production and export is not affected.

Dengue Fever is caused by a virus. It does not ‘live’ in mosquitoes, as malaria does. Dengue fever is transmitted when an Aedes aegypti mosquito bites an infected person, and then bites an uninfected person, passing on the virus in the bite. The disease is NOT transmitted directly person to person.

Dengue Fever starts simply. It seems like flu or a bad cold. But, rapidly the fever rises, and without good medical care, things can go very bad for the victim, very fast. Dengue Fever can become Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever – something like Ebola – causing severe tissue and organ damage, and bleeding from all parts of the body. There is no medical treatment to cure Dengue Fever, and no immunization, either. Fortunately, only 1% of cases cause fatality.

In the news in Thailand, Tridsadee Sahawong, a popular 37 year old television actor, known locally as ‘Por’ (pronounced ‘paw’) is comatose in a top Bangkok hospital, due to Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. He is apparently suffering from kidney and liver damage, and has had several operations, including having his foot amputated. He has been hospitalized for two weeks, and remains in critical condition.

And of course, don’t worry that Dengue Fever will travel from Thailand to you in your orchids.

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