Global Health Asia-Pacific May 2022 May 2022 - Page 32

Medical News

Dengue is on the march again in Southeast Asia

Incidence of the vector-borne disease shows no signs of retreating


n the first five months of this year , both Singapore and Malaysia have recorded rising incidence of dengue , a viral disease that is widespread in tropical areas .
Singapore has already logged 8,000 cases as of May 14 , a much higher number than the 5,258 cases recorded in all of 2021 , The Straits Times reported . Similarly in Malaysia , the number increased by 39.6 percent in the first 17 weeks of this year , from 9,270 cases in the same period in 2021 to 12,942 , according to CodeBlue .
“ We are seeing a steep increase in the number of cases by the week ... it ’ s an emergency phase now that we need to deal with to prevent further increase in the incidence of dengue cases ,” Desmond Tan , Singapore Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment , told The Straits Times .
Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that spreads when infected insects bite humans but can be prevented by reducing mosquito breeding . According to the Minister , grassroots leaders and organisations had carried out operations to control breeding in residential and construction areas , which had reduced clusters by about 70 percent .
One key way to avoid mosquito breeding is to prevent stagnant water from accumulating as this provides a breeding environment for the insects . Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah , Malaysia ’ s Director General of Health , recommended that people get rid of unnecessary containers that could collect water at home and use mosquito repellent outside , according to CodeBlue .
The Singapore National Environment Agency said that the increase was partially due to higher numbers of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes caused by warm , rainy , and humid weather .
Though most dengue infections are mild , in some cases the virus can cause a serious flu-like illness leading to severe bleeding and organ impairment that could potentially be fatal .
The surge of dengue in Singapore and Malaysia is not an isolated event but part of a global phenomenon . The number of cases reported to the World Health Organization ( WHO ) has skyrocketed eight-fold over the last two decades , from 505,430 in 2000 up to 5.2 million in 2019 , according to WHO data . Deaths surged from 960 in 2000 to 4,032 in 2015 and were mostly recorded among young age groups .
Not only has the disease increased in incidence , but it ’ s also reached other areas where it wasn ’ t previously present like Europe , where local transmission was recorded in France and Croatia in 2010 , with the risk of a potential outbreak , according to the WHO . The disease is currently endemic in more than 100 countries across Africa , the Americas , the Eastern Mediterranean , Southeast Asia , and the Western Pacific , with Asia carrying about 70 percent of the global disease burden .
While there ’ s no specific treatment for the condition , patients are advised to rest , stay hydrated , and seek medical advice . In some cases , hospitalisation or emergency care is required .
One preventive vaccine was approved in 2015 , but it ’ s only recommended for people living in endemic areas who ’ ve already had a past dengue infection . This is because clinical trials have shown that vaccinated individuals who have never been infected experienced a higher risk of severe dengue and hospitalisation compared to unvaccinated participants .
30 MAY 2022 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com