Dengue warning for SE Asia10th August 2007
Tens of thousands of cases of dengue fever have been reported through southeast Asia this year, prompting warnings of a major outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease in the Western Pacific region.
August and September are typically the worst months following torrential rains, so countries like Malaysia, which has seen 30,285 dengue cases so far this year, are bracing for worse to come.
That compares with 20,258 cases for the same period last year. The disease has claimed 65 lives this year, compared with 49 deaths in the first seven months of 2006, health officials said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a rising trend in the region which could add up to a major outbreak.
The virus has also spread rapidly through Cambodia, Indonesia, Burma, Singapore and Vietnam. 182 deaths from dengue fever were reported in Cambodia.
Burma has seen 98 deaths so far this year from the virus, which is carried by the Aedes aegyptii mosquito and causes severe fever, headaches, rashes and muscle and joint pain. Severe forms can cause haemorrhagic fever.
There is no vaccine ready to use yet, although possibilities are being tested.
A Burmese health official said there had been more than 8,000 cases of dengue in the country since January, with 32 deaths in July alone.
By comparison, in the whole of 2006 Burma had 11,000 cases and 130 deaths, the official said.
The WHO has called on governments in the region to step up efforts to prevent the disease spreading. Warmer weather, heavy rain and crowded cities are all factors which promote the spread of the virus.
According to The Lancet, the main components of dengue prevention are the use of insecticides, cleaning household water-storage containers, and draining pools of stagnant water.
Public-health activities, better hospital care, and education are also needed, together with earlier recognition of the signs of the disease, especially in children. But a permanent decrease in disease incidence may only be achievable with a vaccine.
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Title: Dengue warning for SE Asia
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 3712
Date Added: 10th Aug 2007