Large Swathes Of Asia In Grip Of Dengue

Sept. 23, 2010, 3:32 p.m.

Aedes aegytpi mosquito which transmits dengue haemorrhagic fever

17 September 2010 – The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that dengue fever, for which there is no treatment or vaccine, is sweeping across Asia, with the number of hospitalizations and severe cases growing.

Some 2.5 billion people are at risk globally of contracting dengue, one of the world’s fastest-emerging infections, with more than 70 per cent of them living in the Asia-Pacific region.

Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam are among the Asian countries are badly affected by the disease, while Singapore is witnessing a decline.

A flu-like illness spread by mosquitoes, dengue fever often emerges when the insects are able to breed in large numbers in areas exposed to still water, such as improperly managed garbage and flower pots.

The disease is particularly prevalent in sub-standard housing areas with poor sanitation.

WHO said that the rise in cases in Asia is due to higher temperatures and rainfall in many areas this year, growing population densities and greater international travel.

Although the increase in cases has not yet been conclusively linked to global warming, climate change plays a key role in the spread of dengue, with mosquitoes being found in areas where they were once not common, including the Republic of Korea and the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Although there is no treatment or vaccine for dengue, early detection and prompt supportive treatment can substantially lower the risk of developing severe disease.

Dengue’s principal symptoms include high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, rash and mild bleeding in the nose or gums.

In some cases, death from dengue shock syndrome can occur, especially if early treatment is not sought.

WHO urges people to protect themselves from mosquito bits by using repellent, coils, mats and nets, as well as by wearing protective clothing.

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