WHO releases dengue strategy

The World Health Organization recently released a strategic report in an effort to cut deaths from dengue virus infections in half and overall dengue cases by 25 percent in the next eight years.

The Global Strategy for Dengue Prevention and Control also sets a goal of estimating the true dengue disease burden by 2015. The WHO estimates that there are 50 to 100 million cases of dengue every year, CIDRAP News reports.

"Compared with the situation 50 years ago, the worldwide incidence of dengue has risen 30-fold," Margaret Chan, the director-general of the WHO, said, according to CIDRAP News. "More countries are reporting their first outbreaks. More outbreaks are explosive in ways that severely disrupt societies and drain economies. Today, dengue ranks as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the world. Everywhere the human and economic costs are staggering."

The report states that an international effort to control the disease is long overdue and that the tools already exist to improve the problem.

"(We suggest using timely, appropriate clinical management) which involves early clinical and laboratory diagnosis, intravenous rehydration, staff training and hospital reorganization," the report said, according to CIDRAP News. "Research to provide better diagnostics and biomarkers to predict disease severity are urgently needed."

The broad strategy to reduce dengue cases includes using coordinated entomological and epidemiological surveillance for better prediction and outbreak detection and promoting integrated mosquito management with mosquito-control measures. In addition, the report said that a vaccine could become available in two to four years, but it acknowledges that the treatment still requires a proof of concept.

"Current dengue prevention and control strategies should include vaccines as an important element to anticipate and prepare for," the report said, according to CIDRAP News. "This includes preparing for future decision-making on vaccine introduction and use, considering the integration of vaccines with other tools for dengue prevention and control, and investments in surveillance systems and safety monitoring of vaccines."