Dengue cases double worldwide over last decade

Officials from the World Health Organization recently announced that worldwide cases of dengue fever have doubled over the last decade and that this year’s outbreak was significantly worse than the year before.

Shin Young-Soo, the WHO regional director for the western Pacific, told reporters at an October 10 news conference that dengue has emerged as the fastest growing mosquito-borne illness around the globe, XinHuaNet.com reports.

Shin said that the exact cause for the rise remains unknown, but he postulated that it could be caused by rising temperature, rainfall and urbanization. He admitted, however, that it could also be due to better surveillance techniques that have recently been developed.

Earlier in the week, the WHO announced that 2.5 billion people are at risk of contracting dengue fever. Asia has been hit particularly hard, with 70 percent of new cases originating there. The Philippines and Laos have suffered from severe outbreaks this year while Malaysia has seen its dengue situation turn critical in the last three years.

According to the Malaysian Health Ministry, there have been over 37,000 cases of dengue fever since the beginning of the year, a 17 percent increase over its 32,000 case total from last year. There have been 117 deaths from the disease, an increase of 65 percent. The Malaysian government is considering releasing genetically modified mosquitoes to help stem the flow of new cases and eradicate the spread of dengue.

The WHO’s press conference was conducted in concert with the 61st session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, held from October 11th to the 15th in Putrajaya, Malaysia. A total of 33 countries will participate.