he World Health Organization cautioned
about record-high cases of dengue fever as mosquitoes benefit from the increased heat — posing a “pandemic threat.” Experts predict that about half the world’s population will now be at risk of dengue, marking an eight-fold increase in incidence since 2000.
Soaring dengue cases
- The ECDC reports over 3.7 million cases of dengue as of August 2023 with over 2000 dengue-related deaths, with data from 70 countries.
- Close to 3 million cases have already been reported in the Americas so far, with regions like Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru reporting the highest number of cases.
- New Delhi has steadily reported a concerning uptick in dengue cases, with “at least 40% of fever cases” being diagnosed as dengue, reported the Times of India.
- While the COVID-19 pandemic may have initially lessened the burden of dengue, environmental changes exacerbated by climate change have contributed heavily to the rapid progression.
- Dengue fever is spread through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito — jet black in color, with white spots on its thorax, and white rings on the legs.
- About 25 percent of people infected with dengue experience any symptoms, typically appearing 4 to 10 days after the mosquito bite and lasting for up to a week.
- Common symptoms include high fever (104°F or 40°C), rashes, nausea, vomiting, joint or muscle pain, swollen glands, and pain behind the eyes.
- Nearly 1 in 20 people who get sick develop severe dengue — with warning signs appearing 24 to 48 hours after your symptoms go away. Severe dengue is a life-threatening emergency, with symptoms like stomach pain, vomiting, throwing up blood or blood in stool, mild bleeding from the nose or gums, or extreme fatigue.
- While immunity gained from infection with one serotype may provide lifelong protection against that serotype, it doesn’t fully protect you from others.
- Countries with a frequent risk of dengue include the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Maldives.
What you can do to prevent dengue
- The Food and Drug Administration approved a dengue vaccine called Dengvaxia in 2019, which requires three doses spread 6 months apart (0, 6, and 12 months).
- The CDC recommends the vaccine only for children aged 9 to 16 who have previously had a confirmed dengue infection and reside in an area with frequent risk of dengue.
- Dengue evades typical prevention — with the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes being resistant to insecticides, and the lack of a cure only makes things worse. The only concrete way to avoid dengue is to prevent mosquito bites altogether.
- Wearing long-sleeved clothing, using EPA-registered mosquito repellents, installing window screens, and avoiding breeding are some preventive measures recommended by the CDC.
Scientists have searched for answers to control dengue fever outbreaks: such as a system to predict outbreaks in advance or releasing bacteria-infected mosquitoes that shut off Aedes aegypti‘s ability to transmit diseases.
However, there’s only so much that the already crippled healthcare system can handle — with healthcare workers suffering from emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and severe burnout symptoms.