The World Health Organization’s chief scientist warns that rising temperatures on Earth will make dengue fever a major threat this decade.
What is happening?
The WHO’s chief scientist reported that dengue fever is expected to have a massive impact on Europe, the United States and new parts of Africa within a decade, according to EuroNews.Green. The infection is transmitted by mosquitoes, which are expected to be affected by rising global temperatures, pushing the insects into territories they did not previously inhabit.
Why is dengue a concern?
In Latin America and Asia, dengue causes up to 20,000 deaths each year – and since 2000, the global rate of the disease has increased eightfold, largely thanks to dangerous overheating of the planet, according to EuroNews. Green.
The outlet notes that 4.2 million cases of the illness were reported last year and that officials expect 2023 could see close to the record number of cases. Additionally, it is important to note that a significant portion of dengue cases go unreported.
Dengue fever is also called “fracture fever” because of the muscle spasms and joint pain it causes. Most dengue patients are asymptomatic, making it difficult to track and prevent outbreaks and transmission.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5% of infected people eventually develop a severe case of the disease, and less than 1% of total cases are fatal, when properly diagnosed and treated, according to Medscape.
Pregnant people, children and former dengue patients are at higher risk than other segments of the population, EuroNews.Green reported.
What are we doing to fight dengue fever?
There is a vaccine against dengue fever. The WHO recommends that children aged six to 16 receive Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ Qdenga vaccine in disease-affected regions.
Additionally, experts believe that public funding of mosquito control and planning for hospital triage will help reduce the impact of the disease, according to EuroNews.Green. The most effective strategy you can use to prevent illness is to eliminate standing water in and around your home, because standing water attracts mosquitoes.
“We need to talk about dengue much more proactively,” said Jeremy Farrar, chief scientist and infectious disease specialist at the WHO, according to EuroNews. “We really need to prepare countries for how they will deal with the additional pressure that will arise…in the future in many, many large cities.” »
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