In Southeast Asia, particularly in the archipelago of Indonesia, the cases of dengue fever are reaching near record levels. Dengue fever is carried and transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and commonly occurs in the region.
Dengue afflicts its host with the symptoms of: fever; nausea and vomiting; joint, bone and muscle pain. The syndrome can be fatal, but the incidence of such drops dramatically with proper medical treatment. Dengue’s fatality rate plummets to roughly 1 death per 1,000 infections when patients receive adequate medical care.
The increase of Dengue infections in the region can be attributed to several factors. Inhabitants of the region are traveling much more than in previous times, encouraging the spread of the virus. The region is also becoming more urbanized exposing the inhabitants to areas with more Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Experts also placed part of the blame for increased infections on global warming.
According to Reuters, Lo Wing-Lok, a Hong Kong based expert on infectious diseases had this to say about the surging dengue infection rates: “The threat of dengue is increasing because of global warming, mosquitoes are becoming more active year by year and their geographical reach is expanding both north and south of the Equator. Even Singapore, which is so affluent and modern, can’t exercise adequate control.”
The problems Dengue presents are exacerbated by a lack of vaccine for the disorder. The syndrome can be caused by four different viruses; the viruses are closely related but differ enough that developing antibodies for one of the viruses does not provide any protection against the other three. This circumstance is delaying development of a Dengue vaccine.
There is also no specific treatment for Dengue fever besides support services meant to bolster patient’s bodies while their immune system fights of the virus. Administration of Intravenous fluids, medication for fever and pain are common tactics for treating Dengue patients.
Governments of Dengue stricken countries are implementing and expanding mosquito eradication programs. The programs are aimed at eradicating mosquito breeding areas. Mosquito’s can breed in nearly anything that holds standing water. The programs involve public service campaigns meant to encourage individuals to take steps to eliminate mosquito breeding areas.
In addition to Indonesia: Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are experiencing major increases in their rates of Dengue infections. Malaysia experienced a 71% increase in dengue deaths and a 55% increase of dengue infections from the number of cases in 2006, according to Reuters.
Reuters, Southeast Asia battles dengue surge, http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSJAK32422020070611?pageNumber=1