WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

El Nino season connected to dengue fever epidemic

El Nino season connected to dengue fever epidemic. | Courtesy of biology.usf.edu
New research from an international team at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health shows that high temperatures in strong El Nino seasons are connected to dengue epidemics.

“Large dengue epidemics occur unexpectedly, which can overburden the health care systems,” Willem G. van Panhuis, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and assistant professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, said. “Our analysis shows that elevated temperatures can create the ideal circumstance for large-scale dengue epidemics to spread across a wide region. The ability to predict and prepare for these epidemics should lead to more effective disease surveillance and control efforts.”

Dengue fever, which is spread through bites from mosquitoes infected with the virus, has spread throughout southeast Asia. According to the team, dengue epidemics seem to be related to unusually high temperatures that are the result of the El Nino weather phenomenon.

“This study will contribute toward a better understanding of the cyclical nature of dengue,” Lam Sai Kit, Ph.D., co-author and professor at the University of Malaya in Malaysia, said. “Based on the extensive data analyzed and the conclusions reached, it will help to improve early warning systems for impending large outbreaks in the region. Now that the new El Niño has started, these findings will help us prepare for a worst-case scenario, and immediate measures can be taken to counter its effect in the next few months.”

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