Dengue Fever Expected to Pose Major Threat in Southern United States, Southern Europe, and New Parts of Africa
Dengue fever, a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes, is anticipated to become a significant threat in the southern United States, southern Europe, and new regions of Africa. The surge in temperatures due to climate change has created favorable conditions for the mosquitoes carrying the virus to spread, leading to a potential outbreak in these areas.
Although Dengue fever has been a persistent problem in Asia and Latin America, causing approximately 20,000 deaths annually, recent years have seen a global escalation of cases. Climate change and increased movement of people have contributed to an alarming eight-fold rise in dengue cases since 2000.
Data from 2022 revealed a staggering 4.2 million reported cases of dengue worldwide. Alarmingly, this year is expected to witness near-record levels of transmission. Currently, Bangladesh is grappling with its worst-ever outbreak, with over 1,000 deaths attributed to dengue.
Jeremy Farrar, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), stresses the importance of proactive measures to combat dengue and adequately prepare countries for the additional pressure it will bring. Farrar warns that dengue is likely to become endemic in parts of the United States, Europe, and Africa, placing strain on healthcare systems. The clinical care required for dengue patients is intensive and demands a high nursing ratio.
One of the challenges in containing dengue is the fact that most individuals infected do not exhibit symptoms, leading to higher rates of transmission. Symptoms of dengue fever include fever, muscle spasms, and severe joint pain. In rare cases, the infection can be fatal.
Although no specific treatment exists for dengue yet, Takeda Pharmaceuticals has developed a vaccine called Qdenga, which has been recommended for children between the ages of 6 and 16 in areas with a significant public health concern surrounding dengue.
Effective prevention of dengue involves controlling the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the infection. Approaches include triaging hospital plans, scientific innovation, and urban planning to eliminate standing water near or inside houses, which serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Farrar underscores the necessity for collaboration among different sectors to effectively combat dengue and commendably allocate public health funds in the appropriate areas. By adopting proactive measures and addressing the imminent threat of dengue, countries can mitigate the potential impact on their populations and healthcare systems.