Obesity may make dengue fever more difficult to treat

A statement made by experts on Friday warned that dengue fever, the potentially fatal mosquito-borne virus, will become more difficult to treat as the people of the world become more obese and overweight.

Those infected with dengue fever suffer from a symptom known as capillary permeability, which is when fluid leaks from blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. This can cause complications in organs, including the liver, kidneys and brain, Reuters reports.

“The complications are lots of fluids in the lungs which make breathing difficult,” Jeremy Farrar, a tropical medicine professor and director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, said, according to Reuters. “In people who have a high body mass index, their capillaries are intrinsically more likely to leak, so that is made worse in a dengue infection.”

Dengue fever was a disease primarily found among young children. Now, however, all ages have become susceptible as a result of constant movement and urbanization, which allows the virus carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito to thrive. The World Health Organization estimates that 50 million dengue fever infections occur each year worldwide, leading to 22,000 annual deaths.

As of yet, there is no vaccine or cure for dengue fever, although one candidate vaccine is in the final stage of clinical development.