Report: Dengue fever may infect 37 million annually in India

Dengue fever, a viral infection that 40 percent of humans are at risk of contracting worldwide, may be infecting 37 million people annually in India, according to a tropical disease expert.

While official counts of the disease in India report 30,002 cases between January and October, that number may be a major underestimate. Scott Halstead, a tropical disease expert who focuses on dengue research, estimates a case count in the millions, the New York Times reports.

"I'd conservatively estimate that there are 37 million dengue infections occurring every year in India, and maybe 227,500 hospitalizations," Halstead said, according to the New York Times.

The dengue problem in India is increasing at such a rapid pace that it is estimated that nearly everyone born in the country will contract dengue by adulthood.

"(For those who arrive in India as adults) you have a reasonable expectation of getting dengue after a few months," Joseph M. Vinetz, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, said, according to the New York Times. "If you stay for a longer period, it's a certainty."

As climate change raises temperature, experts are concerned that the range of mosquitoes and the disease itself will expand.

There is no vaccine for dengue and attempts to create one have been unsuccessful.

Dengue can be benign, with symptoms including headache, pain and fever. More serious complications include pain behind the eyes, rash, bleeding nose or gums and a severe headache.