The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that outbreaks of dengue fever have risen in the Asia Pacific region in the past year, killing three times more victims in 2008 than in recent years. 3,255 people died of the disease in 2008 in the organization's Southeast Asia countries grouping, which also includes South Asia and North Korea as well as Indonesia, Thailand and Timor Leste.
Dengue, the most widespread tropical disease after malaria, is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes fever, headaches and agonising muscle and joint pains, which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding and death. Children are especially vulnerable.
Approximately 2.5 billion people are at risk globally for dengue, 1.8 billion of whom are located in the Asia Pacific Region, ranging from Bangladesh to Timor Leste.
Dengue fever in Asian countries such as Indonesia are increasing because of climate changes in rainfall and rapid urbanisation in the Asia-Pacific region have brought dengue outbreaks to countries that never had it before, and more cases in those that have been fighting it for decades.
In the case of Thailand, rapid urbanisation and a lack of public piped water meant people were increasingly storing water in tanks, a favourable breeding site for Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes which carries the dengue virus with eggs that can hide in crevices of earthen jars and survive for 6-7 months without water in tropical climates and at room temperatures and hatch into larvae in water when it rains.
These mosquitoes spread to all over Thailand when such jars are transported from factories to end users hundreds of kilometres away. Thai state health bodies urged more accurate reporting and increased efforts to fight the disease which killed more than 3,200 in the region in 2008.
WHO has developed an Asia-Pacific Dengue Strategic Plan for the prevention and control of dengue in Asia-Pacific, in response to the increasing threat from the disease.
The China Post, "Dengue fever outbreaks on the rise in Asia-Pacific" dated 12 March 2009 in the China Post website [downloaded on 12 March 2009], available athttp://www.chinapost.com.tw/health/infectious%20diseases/2009/03/12/1997...
Wong-Anan, Noppom, “INTERVIEW-Changing climate boosts dengue cases -WHO official” dated 12 Mar 2009 in Reuters website [downloaded on 12 March 2009], available at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SP402739.htm