Dengue Cases Double In Past Decade

Oct. 21, 2010, 8:27 p.m.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Dengue cases have doubled over the past 10 years, with the situation turning significantly worse this year compared with the previous year, a health official said.

The disease has in fact become the fastest-growing mosquito- born disease in the world, Shin Young-soo, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Western Pacific, told a press conference here on Sunday.

While the reason for the deteriorating situation was unknown, Shin said it could be caused by rising temperature, rain amount and urbanization.

However, the increasing number recorded could be due to better surveillance developed over the years, said Shin.

While pointing out that the dengue situation has worsened over the last three years in Malaysia, Shin also said that the Philippines and Laos were severely attacked by the disease this year.

According to the Malaysian Health Ministry, a total of 37,419 dengue cases were reported in the country from January to Oct. 2, an increase of 17 percent or 5,411 cases compared with 32,008 cases recorded in the same period last year.

During the period, 117 death cases were reported, a surge of 65 percent or an increase of 46 cases compared with the same period last year.

Earlier this week, the WHO warned that 2.5 billion people around the globe are estimated to be threatened by the fatal disease, with 70 percent of the cases originating from Asia.

According to the WHO, many dengue cases were reported in Southeast Asian and South Asian countries during the first eight months of 2010, with 60,000 cases recorded in Indonesia, 58,000 in Thailand and 27,000 in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that the ministry had obtained the approval from the Malaysian National Biosafety Board to release the genetic-modified mosquitoes into the environment.

The Malaysian government is researching on the possibility of using genetic-modified mosquitoes to eradicate the spread of dengue, a way deemed most effective and fast in reducing dengue cases.

According to the ministry, the genetic-modified mosquitoes, all male, will still mate with other female mosquitoes but the wigglers, or mosquito larvaes, will not be able to survive.

The press conference was held in conjunction with the 61st session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific from Oct. 11 to 15 in Putrajaya, Malaysia's federal administration center.

To be opened by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the meeting will see the presentation of 16 papers, while a total of 33 countries and regions from the Western Pacific have confirmed participation.

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